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Minister of Defense Csaba Hende resigns

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Minister of Defense Csaba Hende resigned on Monday afternoon following a cabinet session on national defense earlier in the day, in which officials heard a report on the construction of the temporary border security fence on the Hungary-Serbia border, kormany.hu announced yesterday. 

Defense Minister Csaba Hende, left, and LMP fraction leader András Schiffer in a past parliamentary session. (Photo: MTI/Attila Kovács)

Following the cabinet session, Hende handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which he accepted, the announcement said. István Simicskó has been appointed to the post of Minister of Defense.

The resignation came as a shock to all Fidesz party members, an unnamed source told online news portal index.hu, particularly given the growing importance of the army’s role in the current refugee crisis. Hende was instrumental in building the much-criticized fence on Hungary’s southern border and is also reportedly being held responsible for its delay. The fence was to be completed by the end of August.

Csaba Hende served as minister of defense from 2010 and as secretary of state between 1998 and 2002, before becoming Orbán’s cabinet chief in 2002. He was a member of the MDF party from 1998 and joined Fidesz in 2004.

István Simicskó, who will replace Hende, has been a member of the KDNP party since 1991 and joined Fidesz in 1996. He was a political secretary of state of a minister without portfolio responsible for civil national security services between 2000-2002. Between 2010 and 2012, he was secretary of state of the Ministry of Defense, at the time that Hende was minister. In 2012 Simicskó was appointed secretary of state at the ministry of Human Capacity, responsible for sports and youth.

Simicskó had reportedly fought for the ministerial position earlier, but at the time Orbán chose Hende for the job.

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