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10 Jul, 2007 19:24

Polish opposition leader calls for vote on U.S. missile shield plan

Andrzej Lepper, the Polish Deputy Prime Minister who was dismissed from his post on Monday on corruption charges which he denies, has said he will return to the government but not as a minister. His decision to remain in the government will avert the thre

Mr Lepper- who was also the Agriculture Minister – claims he was dismissed because of his stance on plans for elements of a U.S. missile defence shield.  

Lepper's Self-Defence party disagrees with Prime Minster Jaroslaw Kaczynski 's majority Law and Justice party and the government on a number of issues – most importantly the missile defence.  Andrzej Lepper also favours a referendum to decide the issue, saying most Poles are opposed to the citing of American missiles in Poland.

Russia claims the U.S. defence plans are a security threat.

In an interview with Rossiya TV channel in Warsaw, Mr Lepper reiterated his position.

“My post in the government is saved for me. At least that's what the Prime Minister says. But I don’t want to be in this government anymore as a minister. I will spend more time building up the party. What happened was a total provocation against me. I've always said that the issue of Americans putting a missile shield on Polish territory should be put to a referendum. It's clear that people don't want the American base in Poland and I believe that they will vote against it, although a solution to the problem will take quite a long time,” he said.