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Jaruzelski to Step Down on Eve of Bush's Warsaw Visit : Laments He Got Martial Law Blame

June 30, 1989|From Times Wire Services

WARSAW — Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski said today he won't run for Poland's new presidency in balloting next week because the people see him as the man who imposed martial law, not the leader of reforms that followed.

Jaruzelski, the Communist Party chief, recommended the interior minister, Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, for the job--a powerful post resembling the presidency created in the Soviet Union for Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

About the time the National Assembly meets to elect a president, President Bush comes to Poland on July 9-11 for a state visit. Bush is expected to express support for the recent Polish reforms.

Kiszczak has been interior minister since 1981 and thousands of Solidarity activists were interned as a result of orders signed by him. However, he won the confidence of the Solidarity leadership during negotiations that began last August during a national wave of strikes.

Threatened to Step Down

And like Jaruzelski, he threatened to step down in January unless Solidarity's legal status was reinstated.

Solidarity sources said union leader Lech Walesa was flying to Warsaw from the northern port city of Gdansk for talks with Communist Party officials on whether the free trade union could support Kiszczak's candidacy.

"I do not plan to be a candidate," Jaruzelski said in a statement read over state television. "Permit me to propose Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak for the post of president."

The statement was read as the Communist Party's 230-member Central Committee held a daylong meeting to choose its candidate for the presidency.

In a sign of popular opposition to his candidacy, anti-Communist marchers shouting "Jaruzelski must go!" fought police in central Warsaw as they tried to reach the Central Committee building before Jaruzelski announced that he would not run.

'Social Reality'

"I know well that public opinion associates me more often with martial law and less often with the line of reforms--with those so significant decisions of the 10th plenum. I must take into consideration social reality," Jaruzelski said.

Party sources said Kiszczak's candidacy emerged midway through the meeting after supporters of Jaruzelski confidently forecast at the start that their man would be nominated after a brief session.

"A tired society has the right to ask when will the sun shine again over Poland," Jaruzelski's statement said in an apparent reference to his difficulties in ruling the country for the last eight years.

"The time has come for me to speak out. Some may ask why I took so long," Jaruzelski said in reference to his long hesitation over the presidency.

"I can only say that no time is too long for a considered decision when Poland's fate is at stake. Personal plans, ambitions and image are not important," he added. "The most important thing is the supreme interest of the state."

Solidarity holds 46% of the 560-seat National Assembly that makes up both houses of parliament and elects the president.

Solidarity's opposition to Jaruzelski as the man who imposed martial law to crush it in 1981 had appeared to cloud his chances of election.

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