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Protest inside Polish parliament continues

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 20.12.2016 17:04
Opposition MPs staged a sit-in protest inside the Polish parliament for the fifth day running on Tuesday amid a simmering political crisis.
Some doors in the parliament remained close to journalists on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Radek PietruszkaSome doors in the parliament remained close to journalists on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The MPs said they will remain until a key vote on next year’s budget is held again, and the voting rights of an opposition MP are reinstated.

When the opposition MP raised the issue of new media rules during a parliamentary debate on Friday, the Speaker of the lower house excluded him from debate and took away his voting rights.

Opposition MPs then stormed the rostrum, blocking proceedings.

Following several hours of recess, deputies from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party convened in an ancillary hall and passed next year’s budget. Opposition MPs have said that the vote, carried out by a raising of hands, was illegal, and should be repeated.

But PiS MPs insisted the ballot was in line with regulations.

Hours following the incident, the Speaker of the lower house banned journalists from entering the building.

Ban partly lifted

On Tuesday, the ban was partially lifted, with reporters receiving one-day passes for entry to select parts of the building, while other areas, such as the press gallery, remaining locked.

The authorities had said that journalists’ access rights would be “returned to normal” on Tuesday.

Tightened security

Dozens of police vehicles were stationed in front of the parliament building in Warsaw, with officers setting up heavy barricades around the perimeter.

Protests were also held outside the building, with supporters of opposition parties slamming what they described as undemocratic practices by PiS.

A woman holds up a copy of Orwell's 1984 during a protest in front of the parliament building on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

Referring to security measures, the head of the opposition Nowoczesna party, Ryszard Petru, said: “The whole of the lower house is militarised, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of the atmosphere of the martial law period.”

He added that together with the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party, Nowoczesna "will remain in parliament and not give up.”

On Sunday, Polish President Andrzej Duda offered to mediate in the parliamentary crisis.

He met the leaders of four opposition parties in an attempt to come to a compromise.


tags: 16/12/16
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