President Gašparovič becomes honorary chairman of HZD

DELEGATES at the national congress of the Movement for Democracy (HZD) on February 18 elected President Ivan Gašparovič the party's honorary chairman.

Gašparovič, who was behind the launch of the HZD in 2002, considers the post an acknowledgment of his work. He said that his membership in the party remained suspended, and that the new function was more or less purely formal. "I continue to be an independent president who wants to be a president for all citizens," Gašparovič said.

Political scientist Miroslav Kusý said that by accepting the post, Gašparovič had violated his presidential oath of independence. He told the SITA news agency that with this move Gašparovič had demonstrated unambiguously that he sympathizes with one political party.

The Slovak president is supposed to be politically independent and to ensure the proper functioning of the country's constitutional system.

Gašparovič, a former close ally of ex-Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, renounced his position as leader of the HZD following his victory in April 2004 presidential elections.

Compiled by Marta Ďurianová from press reports
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