Walesa Takes Steps Against Parliament

WARSAW -- Facing moves by President Lech Walesa to dissolve parliament unless his coalition steps down, Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak on Friday defiantly rejected any prospect of quitting.

"I will not give in to activities which lead to conflicts and unrest," Pawlak told a news conference after returning home from a visit to the United States.

Walesa began the formal process Thursday of dissolving parliament, saying he would only relent if it dumped the ruling coalition of the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance and Pawlak's smaller Polish Peasant Party.

The move by Walesa, who believes Pawlak is delaying market reforms, evoked loud protests from the main parties, which say the president's legal pretext for winding up the legislature was flimsy and created the risk of a constitutional crisis.

"There is common opposition to (Walesa's) plan to illegally dissolve parliament and there is a shared opinion that this aim poses an unprecedented threat to Polish democracy," Lower House Speaker Josef Oleksy told reporters Friday.

Oleksy, an ex-communist, said that if Walesa went on with attempts to scrap parliament it would haul him before the State Tribunal, a court which may also be used to try General Wojciech Jaruzelski for imposing martial law in 1981.

The lower house approved a constitutional amendment Friday allowing it to continue passing some legislation after it is dismissed and until a new house is elected. The amendment, overwhelmingly approved,must still clear the Senate and be signed by Walesa. Given the tension between president and parliament, that could take weeks.

Walesa has challenged the government's 1995 budget bill before the country's constitutional tribunal, delaying its final approval beyond a three-month deadline and thereby giving himself a debatable pretext for dissolving parliament.

He says this is the only way he can oust Pawlak, whom he accuses of delaying economic reforms and running a government in which some ministers stand accused of corruption.

The president has tried, so far in vain, to persuade the SLD, or Democratic Left Alliance, to break with Pawlak's party and form a pro-reform cabinet. Walesa and Pawlak have also clashed over the vacant cabinet posts of defense and foreign affairs, with Walesa saying Pawlak wants to rob him of a say in these appointments.

Pawlak flew to the United States earlier this week having discussed two compromise candidates with Walesa, without publicly naming them or fully consulting the SLD.

Newspapers reported that Pawlak's suggestion for defense minister was rightist politician Romuald Szeremietiew, causing uproar in the SLD which fiercely opposes the choice. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski hinted Thursday that Walesa may yet secure his aim of splitting the coalition if the reports about Szeremietiew proved true.

But Pawlak told reporters Szeremietiew had never been on the list of three candidates he would formally propose to Walesa later Friday.