Political Turmoil Unfolds in Poland: Arrest of Former Interior Minister Sparks Presidential-Prime Minister Clash

Chaos has erupted within Polish institutions following the arrest of the former Interior Minister, Mariusz Kaminski, on Tuesday evening. The police raided the presidential palace where Kaminski had taken refuge, sparking an open conflict between President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. This clash highlights the challenging coexistence between the conservative head of state, formerly allied with the national-populist PiS group that governed for eight years, and the pro-European government of liberal Tusk, which came into power in December.

The police intervention resolved a tense situation that arose after the arrest order for Kaminski and his close associate, former Deputy Minister Maciej Wasik, who had sought refuge in President Duda’s official residence to avoid imprisonment. In December, both were sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power in a 2007 case.

Kaminski, the former head of the central anti-corruption office, had initiated an allegedly illegal investigation against a member of the ruling coalition during his tenure. Considered a controversial figure, he also served as the coordinator of the secret services, embodying, according to critics, authoritarian tendencies within the Law and Justice (PiS) party. Despite being elected deputies in October, their parliamentary mandates were annulled.

Wanted by the police since Tuesday morning, the two politicians spent the day in the presidential palace at the invitation of the head of state. The arrest occurred in the evening, leading Kaminski, who views himself as a “political prisoner,” to announce an indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday. President Duda expressed deep concern over the arrest, while Prime Minister Tusk accused the camp that governed Poland for eight years of causing “unprecedented legal chaos.” Tusk urged Duda not to “sabotage justice” and reminded him that protecting a criminal could result in a five-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, Duda’s spokesperson stated his intention to inform international heads of state and institutions about alleged law and Constitution violations by the executive power in Poland.

Attempting to ease the political and legal tension, the President of Parliament, Szymon Holownia, suspended parliamentary activity and postponed plenary sessions until next week. However, this move adds further pressure to the government, already engaged in a time-sensitive effort to approve the 2024 budget. According to the Constitution, failure to approve the budget by month-end grants the president the authority to call for new elections.

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