A court Monday ruled Solidarity legal again, officially ending a futile seven-year attempt by Communist authorities to eradicate the Soviet bloc's first independent workers' movement.
A three-judge panel in a Warsaw provincial court handed down the decision to register Solidarity in the same room where the union movement led by Lech Walesa had its original charter approved in November 1980.There was thunderous applause when the court completed the about-face approved by Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, who had tried to dissolve Solidarity in a December 1981 martial-law crackdown but now seeks the movement's help to pull Poland out of economic crisis.
Several Solidarity sources hinted that a meeting might take place between Jaruzelski and Walesa on Tuesday.
"I am happy that we've just returned on the road of democracy and freedom," Walesa said after hearing the decision at his home in Gdansk, where he is recovering from a bad cold. He planned to travel to Warsaw later in the day.
With Solidarity registered, Walesa planned to fly Wednesday morning to Rome to thank Polish-born Pope John Paul II for the Roman Catholic Church's role in helping to broker the agreement with authorities.
The last step in the long bid for restoration of the union movement followed intensive negotiations between authorities and the Solidarity-led opposition that ended April 5 with far-reaching accords.
The bargain grants Solidarity and other long-banned groups legalization in exchange for opposition participation in party-dominated parliamentary elections in June. It also creates the first freely elected legislative chamber in the Soviet bloc - a Senate which will have veto power over the current unicameral parliament, or Sejm, where authorities will maintain a majority.
As the court session ended, hundreds of hands lifted in the "V" for victory sign and chants of "Solidarnosc, Solidarnosc" filled the room.
Two long Solidarity banners were held up through the hearing before Presiding Judge Danuta Widawska, about a dozen key Solidarity activists and 300 spectators.