Polish leaders to hold Independence Day march

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2018

It was a significant about-face for the populist government, which has been trying not to alienate far-right voters but then faced the strong possibility that the main news from Poland on its centennial would have been about extremists or even violence.

The mayor of Warsaw, a member of the opposition Civic Platform party, explained that security was a concern on Sunday and her appeals to the government for help had fallen on deaf ears.

"First of all security" is a concern, she said, adding that "Warsaw has suffered enough due to aggressive nationalism", referring to Nazi Germany's attacks that almost wiped the Polish capital off the map during World War II.

Duda had already made a decision to stay away from the event, which previous year drew around 60,000 people, including representatives of far-right groups from across Poland and Europe.

A smaller counter-protest attracted some 2,000 people.

The event drew heavy media coverage and global criticism.

Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz cited security concerns as a key reason for her decision to ban the originally planned march. "The march will take place", said Tomasz Dorosz, the leader of Poland's National Radical Camp, one of the groups involved in organising the march. They mostly praised the march as an expression of patriotism, with one minister calling it a "beautiful sight". "Warsaw has suffered enough because of aggressive nationalism".

The announcement of the state event comes after the Warsaw city mayor earlier in the day banned a march by radical nationalists that has marred Poland's worldwide reputation in the past and proven deeply divisive at home.

"The capital city saved the honor of the country", the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza wrote.

More than 140 memorials to him already exist across the nation of 37 million people.

"The Independence March will take place anyway, regardless of what Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz claims", organiser Mateusz Marzoch told the Polish PAP news agency. "Everyone is invited, come only with red-and-white flags", he said on Twitter.

The euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) party government said it would organize its own march instead, under the auspices of President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally.

Warsaw's mayor has banned a march celebrating the 100th anniversary of Polish independence amid mounting fears it will be dominated by neo-fascists and the far-Right. The statue will be official unveiled on Saturday as part of the centennial observances marking 100 years of Polish independence.

A worker cleans a statue depicting late Polish President Lech Kaczynski after it was installed at a central square in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2018. Kaczynski, who was killed in a 2010 plane crash in Russian Federation, was the twin brother of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the current ruling party, Law and Justice.

While Poles universally mourned the deaths of the president and the 95 people who perished with him, they remain divided on how to evaluate his presidency and on whether he deserves hero status now.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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