Warsaw: Poland`s new President formally took
control of the nation`s military on Sunday and unveiled a plaque
to the victims of the plane crash that killed his predecessor
and 95 other people.
Bronislaw Komorowski, who as the country`s President is
commander in Chief, assumed command of the armed forces on
Army Day, the August 15 holiday that honours a stunning Polish
victory against Russian Bolsheviks in 1920.
In a ceremony at Warsaw`s central Pilsudski Square,
Komorowski knelt at a military banner and kissed it as he was
surrounded by soldiers. The event was marked by military pomp,
including a parade, the playing of trumpets and the firing of
Komorowski was sworn in as Poland`s new president more
than a week ago, making him the fourth democratically elected
head of state since Poland threw off communism, and the
successor to Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in the plane crash
A bitter political and religious dispute is raging over
how to memorialise Kaczynski and the other victims.
The focus of controversy has been a large wooden cross in
front of the presidential palace, which Kaczynski`s supporters
have surrounded around the clock for many days. They want to
keep the cross there until a major memorial is built to the
victims and have prevented authorities from moving it to a
Komorowski and many secular-minded Poles object to the
cross because they say a public building is not the right
place for a religious symbol in a country that by law is
defined as secular.
Yesterday some supporters were removed to make way for
today`s parade, though the cross was left in place.
Nevertheless, protesters reacted by erecting a second cross
across the street from the palace.