January 9, 2015 / 8:25 AM / 5 years ago

Polish post-Communist premier Oleksy dies aged 68

A veteran of Polish politics Jozef Oleksy speaks to the media after he was nominated for deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Administration at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw January 21, 2004. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

WARSAW (Reuters) - Jozef Oleksy, who as a senior Polish civil servant helped to negotiate the end of Communist rule in 1989 and later became prime minister of a democratic Poland, died on Friday aged 68, a party spokeswoman said.

Oleksy, who led the post-Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), was prime minister between 1995 and 1996 and speaker of parliament from 1993 to 1995 and from 2004 to 2005.

“Jozef Oleksy has passed away today,” the SLD spokeswoman said. Local media said he had died of cancer in a Warsaw hospital.

Oleksy represented the Communist leadership in round table talks with the opposition Solidarity movement in early 1989.

The talks led to the end of Communist rule in Poland, while also encouraging pro-democracy movements elsewhere in the Soviet bloc and helping to trigger the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After a period of euphoria, some Poles, struggling to deal with the bumpy transition to a market economy, started voting for the former Communists, who came back to power in the early 1990s.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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