Source AP ©

Poland picks new agriculture minister to replace ousted Andrzej Lepper

Poland's prime minister picked a member of his Law and Justice party as the new agriculture minister on Tuesday, filling a post made vacant when he fired the previous minister, Andrzej Lepper, on corruption allegations.

The new minister, Wojciech Mojzesowicz, is a 53-year old farmer who once belonged to Lepper's farm-based Self-Defense party, but joined the prime minister's party in 2006.

The move comes amid a larger government crisis that erupted when the prime minister fired Lepper as agriculture minister and deputy prime minister three weeks ago on allegations of involvement in corruption.

Self-Defense had expected to hold onto the agriculture portfolio and criticized the prime minister for choosing someone from his own party, saying it showed a lack of regard for the junior coalition partner.

Self-Defense spokesman Mateusz Piskorski said party leaders were considering withdrawing their ministers from the Cabinet in protest at Mojzesowicz's appointment.

In response, the prime minister said Self-Defense had proposed a candidate for the post who lacked the needed qualifications and whom he "could not accept."

Mojzesowicz was sworn in by the prime minister's twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, in a ceremony at the presidential palace.

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