Poland's opposition seeks dismissal of officials after scathing audit

KO leader Borys Budka said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Supreme Audit Office’s (NIK) notification of possible crimes also included the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki. Albert Zawada/PAP

The Civic Coalition (KO), Poland's main opposition grouping, wants two ministers and the prime minister's chief of staff dismissed after the country's audit office notified the prosecutors of possible crimes committed by them while organising an election last year.

State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin, Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński and Michał Dworczyk, head of the Prime Minister's Office, all face a possible criminal investigation for possible offences committed during the organisation of a failed presidential election on May 10, 2020.

The election was supposed to have taken place in a postal format owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

KO leader Borys Budka said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Supreme Audit Office’s (NIK) notification of possible crimes also included the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

"The Supreme Audit Office has accused the prime minister and three constitutional ministers of committing crimes," Budka said.

"In this unprecedented situation, the Civic Coalition will file motions to dismiss Minister Jacek Sasin, Minister Mariusz Kamiński and Minister Michał Dworczyk," Budka added, but did not explain why the motions would not cover the prime minister.

Marian Banaś, the head of the audit office, said earlier on Tuesday that the prime minister's decision to organise the postal elections had had no legal foundations.

In the case of Sasin and Kamiński, NIK accuses them of breach of duty in relation to the prime minister's decisions concerning the election. Although the decision to press ahead with the vote was illegal, the ministers chose not to challenge it, and thus they were obliged to carry it out, NIK argues.

NIK said the ministers "were obliged to sign relevant contracts with the Polish Post and the Polish Security Printing Works, but they failed to carry out their duties."

The government made an unsuccessful attempt to organise the presidential election in a postal format last May, defying the opposition's warnings that the procedure had no legal foundations.

Ultimately, the plan collapsed after one of the parties in the governing coalition declined to support it.

Despite its cancellation, the postal vote plan still cost taxpayers tens of millions of zlotys.

NIK has already notified prosecutors of possible crimes committed by the Polish Post and the Polish Security Printing Works, the two institutions that were involved in printing and distributing the ballot papers.