Poland names new military chief after crash

Poland's acting president named a new armed forces chief as he moves to fill a vacuum in the state hierarchy left by last month's air crash.

Poland names new military chief after crash

Poland's acting president named a new armed forces chief on Wednesday as he moves to fill a vacuum in the state hierarchy left by last month's air crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and many top officials.

Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski also said he had discussed legal changes with the European Central Bank needed to replace Poland's central bank governor, who was also among the 96 people who died when the plane crashed on April 10.

Komorowski must tread carefully in making appointments to avoid accusations he is overstepping his authority or showing political bias before a presidential election on June 20 which he is expected to win.

Komorowski named General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch as the new head of the joint chiefs of staff, replacing General Franciszek Gagor who died along with the heads of the army, navy and air force in the crash in western Russia.

Cieniuch, who will be formally appointed on Friday, is now Poland's representative on NATO and European Union military committees. Other military appointments are expected soon.

Komorowski said he had also spoken on Wednesday with ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet about planned changes to the Polish central bank law designed to clarify what happens if the bank's governor dies in office.

After Governor Slawomir Skrzypek's death, his deputy Piotr Wiesiolek became acting chief. But Komorowski has said he wants to avoid appointing a permanent replacement until after the presidential election. That person must also be approved by parliament.

"This (legal change) will allow for stabilisation of the deputy governor's position and calm steps towards choosing a permanent governor, which not only requires an initiative of the head of state but also the approval of parliament, which is not easy in the middle of an election campaign," Komorowski said.

Komorowski, a close ally of centrist Prime Minister Donald Tusk, is tipped to win the June election. His main rival is Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw, who leads the right-wing main opposition Law and Justice party.

Everyone on board the Tupolev Tu-154 military plane was killed when it crashed in thick fog near Smolensk airport, plunging Poland into a week of national mourning.

Russian and Polish investigations into the crash are continuing. Russia has blamed pilot error for the disaster.

Reuters

Last Mod: 06 Mayıs 2010, 08:58
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