POLAND TO SET ELECTION DATE, FUNERAL AT WEEKEND
Poland's acting president plans to announce the date of the country's presidential election on Wednesday (today) following the death of Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other high-ranking officials in a plane crash in western Russia, Reuters reports.
Officials said a memorial service for all 96 victims of the crash would be held on Saturday and that a state funeral for Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, could take place either on the same day or on Sunday.
Kaczynski, a combative nationalist known for his distrust of both the EU and Russia, had been travelling to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet secret police near Smolensk when his plane went down on Saturday in thick fog.
Polish military leaders, leading opposition figures and the central bank governor were among those on the Russian Tupolev plane, whose pilot appears to have ignored instructions from Russian air traffic controllers to land elsewhere.
The crash has plunged the nation of 38 million into mourning, but it is not seen as a threat to political or economic stability.
Nevertheless, Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski told TVP Info television on Tuesday that it was important to move swiftly to end the uncertainty about the presidency, saying it was 'absolutely necessary' to announce an election date on Wednesday.
'The election date must be set,' said Komorowski.
'This must be done as soon as possible to shorten the period in which Poland is in a period of uncertainty.'
According to the Polish constitution, the election must take place within 60 days of the announcement.
The body of Poland's first lady, Maria Kaczynska, arrived in Warsaw on Tuesday morning after the president's coffin was returned home on Sunday.
Their coffins were put on display at the presidential palace on Tuesday.
The funeral is expected to be attended by numerous heads of state and government, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.