AP NEWS
Related topics

Leader Urges Party to Promote Reform

April 9, 1988

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ Milos Jakes, leader of the Communist Party, urged its 1.7 million members Saturday to support reforms and win more popular support for the party.

Earlier Saturday, the party elevated two officials to the ruling Politburo and three others to senior party posts as it wrapped up its two-day Central Committee session. Ten people were named Central Committee members.

Jakes, who took over the party leadership last December, said one aim of the personnel changes was ″to elevate younger comrades and thus create conditions for further successful fulfillment of party tasks.″

In a closing speech, Jakes said he was sure Communist leaders could ″get the party going″ to overcome shortcomings in Czechoslovakia’s economy and social life. The theme was echoed in an 11-page resolution adopted by the Central Committee.

Despite a relatively high membership - 1.7 million people in a population of 15.5 million - the Communist Party has had difficulty mobilizing popular support since a Warsaw Pact invasion crushed the party-led reforms of Alexander Dubcek in 1968.

In the 1970s, Czechoslovakia enjoyed a relatively high standard of living. But the economy is now slowing down with growth around 2 percent a year and the Communists admitted last year reform is needed.

But the party has appeared divided over how much reform to allow and has moved slowly to enact change.

The Central Committee’s resolution limits the party leader to two five-year terms, restricts regional officials to three consecutive terms and reduces the number of jobs one person can hold.

The resolution, published by the state news agency CTK, did not mention a vague proposal made by Jakes in a speech Friday to separate the functions of party and state organs, leaving day-to-day administration to the latter.

Jakes said Saturday that the Central Committee meeting paid great attention to how Communists should maintain their traditional leading role in Czechoslovak society.

″The point is not to substitute for economic and state organs, national committees, social organizations, but to influence their activity through Communists working there,″ Jakes said.

The resolution accused Communists of being too bureaucratic and said they failed to set an example for the rest of society.

It stopped short, however, of accepting party responsibility for the flagging economy and what it termed ″bitter″ social problems.

Jakes said the party would ″draw efficient conclusions, especially in higher party bodies″ about some members’ passivity toward restructuring, as the reforms are known. The term is also used for Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of free-market elements into the Soviet economy.

CTK said the party leadership changes were agreed by secret ballot. However, several of them had been widely rumored in Prague before the plenum.

Jan Fojtik, 60, an expert in Communist ideology, and Slovak Communist Ignac Janak, 57, were promoted to the ruling Politburo and Prague party boss Antonin Kapek was dropped.

Kapek, 65, had been on the Politburo since 1970 and has headed the Prague party since 1969. He was considered a hardliner in the late 1960s but lately has tried to overtake others in promoting economic reform. He is said to have irked Jakes by pushing too hard for economic changes.

Miroslav Zavadil, 56, head of the state-run trade unions, was named a candidate Politburo member and Jozef Lenart, 60, the Slovak party leader, comes to Prague to take over Jakes’ old job as head of a party commission on economic reform.

Frantisek Hanus, 45, was elected a member of the secretariat of the Central Committee.

Most of the 10 new members elected to the Central Committee are between 30 and 50 years of age.

In his speech, Jakes said there would also be government changes but gave no details.

According to informed sources, a number of ministries are to be amalgamated and between 30,000 and 50,000 bureaucrats will lose their jobs in a plan to be announced later this month.

AP RADIO
Update hourly