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Poland: President Replaces Army Chief

Warsaw, 10 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski today fired the head of the country's armed forces, saying the move was part of Poland's strategic goals for membership in NATO.

Just hours before his dismissal, Tadeusz Wilecki said in a radio interview the government of former communists was using the secret service to spy on the army and of trying to win control of the armed forces.

Wilecki had been criticized earlier for his opposition to civilian control of the army, a basic NATO requirement for candidate countries seeking membership in an expanded alliance.

During an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace, Kwasniewski appointed Gen. Henryk Szumski to take over as chief of the general staff. Wilecki was not present at the ceremony. Kwasniewski said Wilecki was too ill to attend.

Szumski said he would make the army less political and more disciplined.