Polish PM set to form government

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The Independent Online
WARSAW (Reuter) - Waldemar Pawlak, the Polish Prime Minister, appeared to have won a political gamble yesterday when his offer to resign brought a change of heart from reluctant coalition partners.

Three pro-market parties said they wanted to join the government after all - just hours after Mr Pawlak, a 32-year-old farmer, offered to quit, saying he had been unable to form a coalition. The three said they were now waiting to hear from Mr Pawlak.

The Prime Minister had earlier told parliament: 'Because potential allies did not publicly declare . . . serious support for a new government, I inform the chamber that I am asking the President to free me of the mission of creating a new government.'

But President Lech Walesa replied by blocking this move, refusing to ask parliament to vote on the resignation in an apparent ultimatum to the parties to break the political impasse.

Before he offered to resign, Mr Pawlak told parliament that he had been close to a deal linking his Polish Peasants Party with the three parties in a coalition, but that they had withdrawn their support at the last moment. A source close to the negotiations said Mr Pawlak had already offered to cede control over the economy to the three parties, clearing what had seemed to be a major sticking-point.

But it was not before the resignation offer and Mr Walesa's blocking move that the parties declared their renewed commitment to joining Mr Pawlak.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former prime minister and leader of the Democratic Union, the biggest of the three potential partners, told reporters the ball was now in Mr Pawlak's court. 'The initiative now belongs to him. We will not talk under the pressure of an ultimatum,' Mr Mazowiecki said.

Mr Pawlak, nominated by President Walesa as a compromise candidate after Jan Olszewski's minority coalition fell on 5 June, had been due to present a cabinet yesterday after almost four weeks of negotiations.