Lech Walesa quits Solidarity

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa, the founder of the Solidarity movement has quit the organisation. The Solidarity trade union movement and political party was founded in 1980 to combat Poland's Communist government. "I have given up my membership last year because Solidarity and I have gone separate ways," said Walesa who served as Poland's first post-Communist president from 1990 to 1995.

Walesa, 62, is boycotting Solidarity's 26th anniversary celebration this month as he does not want to appear with current President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski with whose policies he disagrees. "His approach is to first destroy and then think about what to build," Walesa said of the president. Last August, he said of the union "This is no longer my union. This is a different era, different people, different problems."

It was revealed today that Walesa has not formally been a member of Solidarity since the beginning of this year.

"He has not been paying membership fees since the end of last year," a leading Solidarity member, Jerzy Borowczak, told the AFP news agency.

Walesa says he left Solidarity after the union ignored his criticism of its support of the Law and Justice Party led by the Kaczynskis.

"When my arguments were not reaching them, I gave instructions to terminate my membership," Walesa said. "It is not over the Kaczynskis, but that was the last straw."

Solidarity was created as an independent trade union when such organizations were outlawed under the Communist state. Despite attempts to destroy the group through repressions, it came to embody a broad social anti-communist movement within Poland. It is credited as one of many dissident movements which in the 1980s pressured reforms which eventually led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and states in its sphere of influence. Solidarity eventually came to power in Poland with Walesa serving as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995.