Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the last president of communist Poland, died Sunday from a stroke he suffered several days ago. He was 91.

Born in July 1923, Jaruzelski had entered a hospital in Warsaw on May 11 after his health worsened.

It was another ex-president, socialist Aleksander Kwasniewski, who informed the press of the death of the veteran military man.

In recent years Jaruzelski had suffered from cancer and pneumonia, and he had been forced to spend long periods in the hospital as a result.

Jaruzelski was one of the country's main military and political figures during the 1960s, '70s and 80s.

He became defense minister in 1968 and was part of communist Poland's ruling leadership, then served as prime minister from 1981 to 1985, president of the Council of State from 1985 to 1989 and president of the country in 1989-1990.

In 1981, he declared martial law in Poland, a measure he always defended as necessary to prevent Moscow's intervention during a period when a large portion of Polish society was clamoring for an end to communism.

Later, he facilitated the holding of the country's first free elections and the transition to democracy in which Lech Walesa and the Solidarity union played such a key role.

The Polish judiciary had charged Jaruzelski with assorted crimes and had brought him to trial on several occasions, in particular for imposing martial law, although he was never convicted. EFE