‘White-and-red independence march’ to be organised by government

2017 Warsaw Independence March crosses the Vistula river. Photo: PAP/Bartłomiej Zborowski

“It has been agreed that a white-and-red march organised by the government will take place on November 11”, the President's spokesman Błażej Spychalski said on Wednesday evening.

Warsaw mayor bans Independence March

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the mayor of Warsaw, announced the cancelling of Sunday’s Independence March.

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The march is to be organised by the government as the official centenary of independence celebrations under the auspices of President Andrzej Duda.

The decision comes in the wake of Warsaw Mayor banning the Independence March organised by the nationalist circles.

Asked about the march’s route, Mr Spychalski said that it would share the route of the banned Independence March. No other details of the march have been revealed so far.

The government’s decision, coming just few days before the independence celebrations, leads to many unknowns. Organisers of the nationalist march appealed earlier today against the Warsaw Mayor’s decision and said that despite the ban, “the march will happen.”

Within 24 hours the regional court will decide over the appeal. Should the ban be overthrown, are two marches to take place in Warsaw on Sunday? Or will participants of the Independence March join the government-organised one?

Mr Spychalski said that “as the march is organised as the official state ceremony, no other marches can share their routes with it.”

Reactions to the decision

In the aftermath of the decision, presidential aide Andrzej Dera was asked by private news broadcaster TVN24 about consequences of organising the alternative march. “The march is for all Poles. Flags should be solely white-and-red, no organisations should show their banners there.”

“Everyone is invited to the march”, Mr Dera said. “An invitation has also been sent to Donald Tusk [former PM, currently head of the European Council]”

Asked about the possibility of nationalist organisations joining the march, Mr Dera responded: “Far-right groups showing their flags should not be allowed to participate.”

However, the head of the nationalist All-Polish Youth Krzysztof Bosak told radio station RMF FM that no changes are planned to the Independence March. Convinced that the court lifts the ban, Mr Bosak said that “the situation we face on Sunday can be that the President organizes something just four days in advance but after the court’s ruling we have the full right to march according to the previously set route.”

Asked whether the President’s decision does not stand in the way of this plan, Mr Bosak said that “the Independence March will not alter its route.”

Spokesman of the Warsaw Mayor said that the decision “takes the organisation of the independence celebrations away from the city’s mayoral office. Now, it is the President’s office that is responsible for all the events during the celebrations and for providing security.”

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