Walesa-Polish election most vital since communism

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WARSAW, Oct 20 (Reuters) Poland's election tomorrow is the most important since the collapse of communism in 1989, ex-president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said.

Walesa said Poles had a moral obligation to vote because only a high turnout might defeat the ruling party of Prime Minister Jaroslaw and President Lech Kaczynski.

''We are deciding if our country will be ruled by one family, by two twin brothers who don't care about democracy and about our rights,'' Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, told Reuters yesterday.

''It is the most important election since the end of the totalitarian state and we must attend it,'' said Walesa, 64.

Poland holds a snap parliamentary election on Sunday after two years of turbulent rule by the brothers. Lech Kaczynski, the president, does not face an election until 2010.

Their conservative Law and Justice party is just behind the centre-right Civic Platform in opinion polls and could lose control of the government.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski was Walesa's top aide when the former Solidarity union leader became president in 1990 but they fell out when Walesa refused to abandon painful free-market reforms.

Walesa's son, Jaroslaw, is a candidate for the Civic Platform in the city of Gdansk, birthplace of Solidarity which helped trigger the fall of communism.

Walesa said the twins were undermining all Poland's achievements since 1989. The Kaczynskis have repeatedly rejected Walesa's criticism and say he has abandoned values he once fought for.

The Kaczynskis came to power in 2005 promising a ''moral revolution'' but rights groups and opponents accuse them of abusing a fight against corruption to discredit rivals.

Walesa criticised the brothers for allowing the sale of the Gdansk shipyard. The government agreed on Wednesday to sell the yard to Ukraine's Donbass in a 400 million dollars deal aimed at preventing its bankruptcy.

''This is a betrayal,'' Walesa said. ''The shipyard is the mother of freedom and it should be in Polish hands.'' REUTERS SV HS0845

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