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President Appoints New Military Chief of Staff

August 5, 1992

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ President Lech Walesa strengthened his grip on the armed forces Wednesday by appointing his choice as army chief of staff, the country’s top military commander.

Gen. Tadeusz Wilecki, 47, a two-star general, previously served as commander of the southwestern Silesian Military District. He replaced Gen. Zdzislaw Stelmaszuk, who was in office two years.

Walesa, who as president is supreme commander of the armed forces, wanted to appoint Wilecki earlier this year. But he was opposed by then-Prime Minister Jan Olszewski and his defense minister, Jan Parys.

In a nearly six-month feud over who is in charge of the military, Parys dismissed officers thought to be Walesa loyalists and made appointments without consulting the president.

In April, Parys accused Walesa of drawing the army into anti-democratic intrigues, but a special parliamentary panel found the charges to be groundless.

Parys resigned on May 18, only two weeks before the Olszewski government was dismissed.

A series of constitutional changes approved by parliament Saturday reaffirms that Walesa is authorized to approve all senior military commanders. The appointment of Wilecki was also approved by the current defense minister, Janusz Onyszkiewicz.

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