President, PM announce official Independence Day march

2018-11-07 19:41 update: 2018-11-11, 09:29
Photo PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Photo PAP/Radek Pietruszka
The Polish government will hold an official Independence Day march in Warsaw on November 11, President Andrzej Duda and PM Mateusz Morawiecki agreed after talks on the matter on Wednesday afternoon.

The meeting between the president and prime minister was called in the wake of Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz's earlier ban on a November 11-planned independence march by the extreme right National-Radical Camp (ONR) organisation. 

After the talks, Duda's spokesperson Błażej Spychalski said the president and Morawiecki agreed to hold an official Independence Day march on November 11, to have the status of a state ceremony. He added that Duda agreed to take the march under his official patronage and observed that as it will be a state event the law will forbid any other processions along the same route.

Asked if the official march would not be seen as a rival event to the banned ONR procession, whose organisers have said will take place despite the ban, Spychalski said all Poles were welcome to join the official event regardless of their political affiliations.

Explaining her decision to ban the ONR march earlier on Wednesday, Gronkiewicz-Waltz referred to the European parliament's October appeal to EU members to restrict the activity of neo-fascist groups, and pointed out that the march's main sponsor was an ultra-right organisation. Gronkiewicz-Waltz stressed that she had twice appealed for ONR's delegalisation to the justice minister, and insisted that she fully stood behind her decision to forbid the march, because "this is not what the centenary of the Polish state should look like."

"I say with full responsibility, that this is not what the centenary of the Polish state should look like. Hence my decision to forbid the march," Gronkiewicz-Waltz told a press conference in Warsaw.

The Independence March Association, the main organiser of the ONR event, in its response to Gronkiewicz-Waltz's move, accused her of "conceit and arrogance" and described her decision as "shameful and disgraceful." The association's deputy head Mateusz Marzoch said the march will take place despite the ban, and added that its organisers planned to charge Gronkiewicz-Waltz's ruling to court.

Also the Warsaw police responded to the ban with surprise, and said it had not been consulted with them. Police spokesperson Sylwester Marczak told PAP that Gronkiewicz-Waltz had not discussed her decision with police authorities, and voiced fears that banning the march only a few days prior to its scheduled date threatened with "effects which may give cause for alarm." (PAP)

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