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Polish President Andrzej Duda has offered to act as the country's mediator amid an ongoing political crisis. Tensions are rising amid accusations the government is attempting to limit press freedom.
Duda was meeting separately with opposition leaders on Sunday in an effort to mediate the crisis, which has seen protests on the street as well as in the country's parliament over the weekend.
A number of meetings were being held throughout the day, according to the president's spokesman. The first was held with Ryszard Petru, head of the Modern party. Polish People's Party (PSL) leader Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz (seen above) also said he had met with Duda.
Thousands of protestors across the country are challenging a new plan by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to restrict journalists' access to lawmakers in Parliament. The party has come under fire in the past for its perceived efforts to clamp down on state media as well as its plans to reform the country's highest court.
Earlier this weekend, protestors shouted slogans like "Freedom! Equality! Democracy!" and waved Polish and EU flags outside the presidential palace and the parliament. "This conflict is entering a new, more aggressive phase," one photographer in attendance said. "Every day we hear news that makes us understand that we are further and further away from a democracy. People have had enough."
Tusk appeals to Duda
The demonstrations occurred simultaneously with protests happening within the parliament, where around two dozen opposition leaders were continuing a stand-off that began on Friday meant to block a budget vote.
On Saturday, European Council President and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk appealed to PiS, at one point invoking the word "dictatorship." "I appeal to those who hold real power in our country to respect the people, the principles and values of the constitution, the standing procedures and good practices," Tusk said in Wroclaw.
That same day, influential PiS politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski also intervened, announcing a meeting with several politicians and media representatives. "No one has ever wanted to limit journalists' access to important political events," Karczewski said, according to PAP news agency.
blc/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)