Polish president unexpectedly vetoes judiciary reform

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POLAND'S ruling party has defied protests from its allies, including the European Union and USA, and approved an overhaul of its supreme court that removes all judges except those picked by the government.

The bill on judicial overhaul that will remove Supreme Court judges was approved by the Polish Senate on Saturday.

The signature of Andrzej Duda, the president, is the last requirement for the new measures to become law and he is due to meet the head of the supreme court today for talks. The bills need to be signed by the president before entering into force.

A top European Union official has threatened the sanctions and possible suspension of Poland's European Union voting rights.

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In announcing his decision, Andrzej Duda broke openly for the first time with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party. EU President Donald Tusk, who was Poland's PM from 2007 until 2014, said that the move "implies a departure from the liberal model" and the EU has threatened fines and a suspension of Poland's EU voting rights.

"Bringing the courts under the control of the governing party in the manner proposed by the Law and Justice Party. will ruin the already tarnished public opinion about Polish democracy", he said.

But the U.S. State Department tweeted a warning Friday to Poland "to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate (the) constitution & respects judicial independence".

Duda said he would veto two of three bills recently passed by lawmakers.

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