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President-elect Lech Walesa, admitting failure in his search for a prime minister, Thursday asked the caretaker government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki to stay on until parliamentary elections next year.

"The president-elect proposes that, after necessary corrections, the old government stays until the spring elections," Walesa said in a statement.

He made the offer to Mazowiecki, his avowed political opponent, after two other leading candidates turned down the job of prime minister.

Solidarity lawyer Jan Olszewski pulled out of contention Tuesday, citing "important differences" with Walesa, while businessman and legislator Jan Krzysztof Bielecki told the official Polish news agency on Thursday that he did not intend to form a government.

Mazowiecki resigned as prime minister immediately after the first round of presidential elections last month in which he was crushed by Walesa and emigre millionaire Stanislaw Tyminski.

Mazowiecki had no immediate response. Malgorzata Niezabitowska, his spokeswoman, said he had learned of the offer from the news agency but noted he firmly had turned down earlier overtures from Walesa.

"This is not a surprise. It's happened before but the prime minister refused, saying that those who won the elections should take responsibility, especially since they led a negative campaign, a campaign which was mainly criticism of the politics and program of the government," she said.

Ms. Niezabitowska also recalled that parliament last week accepted Mazowiecki's resignation while asking him to stay on as caretaker.

Walesa, elected president Dec. 9, is scheduled to be inaugurated Saturday.

Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski will step aside as president to make way for Walesa, having allowed Poland to shake off communism just eight years after subjecting it to the nightmare of martial law.

Jaruzelski bows out as the last lonely survivor in the government of four decades of communism in Poland, departing nearly a year after his former party voted to disband itself.

Walesa fiercely criticized Mazowiecki, his longtime friend and Solidarity ally, during the presidential campaign, accusing him of dragging his feet over political and economic reform and failing to remove ex-Communists from positions of power.

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