BERLIN (AP) -- Lothar Bisky, who led the leftist party of former East German communists following German reunification, has died at age 71.
Bisky's death was announced by a Left Party leader, Gregor Gysi. He said Bisky died Tuesday but gave no cause of death.
Bisky joined the ruling Marxist party in Communist East Germany in 1963 but did not rise to senior positions until hardliners were purged following the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
After German reunification, he served as chairman of the Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor of East Germany's former ruling party.
Bisky was elected to Germany's Parliament in 2005 and two years later steered the PDS into a merger with other left-wing groups to form the Left Party, which he led from 2007 to 2010.