Opposition Demands Proof Secret Police Being Disbanded
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ Pro-democracy groups forced early adjournment Monday of weekly talks with the Communist Party on East Germany’s future, demanding proof that the hated secret police were being disbanded as promised.
About 100,000 reformers rallied at Leipzig, in the first of its regular Monday evening demonstrations after a three-week break.
As at previous Leipzig demonstrations, the crowd was divided between those favoring reunification with West Germany and those opposed. Rally sponsors canceled the usual speeches to prevent a confrontation on the issue.
In the crowd were banners with such slogans as ″Down with the SED″ - the Socialist Unity Party, the Communists’ formal name - and ″Gysi out,″ a reference to party chairman Gregor Gysi.
About 50,000 people rallied at Karl-Marx-Stadt and thousands demonstrated in Schwerin, Halle, Neubrandenburg and Cottbus, said ADN, the official news agency.
ADN said the first indictments against 30 former top Communists were expected next month and more investigations would be completed in March and April.
A near-frenzy against corruption and abuse of power has developed since Erich Honecker, the 77-year-old Stalinist party chief, was deposed in October after 18 years in power.
The agency said it could not predict when charges could be expected against Honecker, who also is the object of a criminal investigation, but it denied there was any intentional delay in pursuing his case.
Honecker is hospitalized, the agency reported, but it did not say where. Last week, ADN said he had a malignant kidney tumor.
Monday’s confrontation illustrated the wariness with which reformers regard the transitional government of Hans Modrow, the Communist premier.
Two major opposition groups - including the largest, New Forum - have threatened to leave the talks because of what they call government efforts to preserve the secret police. Failure of the talks could set the stage for new political turmoil.
A majority of delegates supported a motion by New Forum to end the Monday session an hour early and block consideration of other topics until officials provide details on the dissolution of the once-feared secret police.
Delegates demanded unanimously that the government submit a report about internal security at the meeting Jan. 15.
Democratic Awakening, an opposition group, initially demanded that Modrow and other top officials appear at the meeting within two hours to clear up the matter. That was abandoned because Modrow was traveling to Bulgaria.
Rolf Henrich of New Forum revealed what he said was a draft message prepared by secret police agents in Gera on Dec. 9, urging authorities in East Berlin to ″paralyze″ the opposition. Henrich said he did not know whether the message had been sent.
Opposition delegates demanded the government disarm agents of the former State Security Office by Jan. 19 and cancel plans to establish a successor agency before free elections in May.
Modrow has said a new security agency was needed to counter what his government claims is an increase of neo-Nazism in East Germany.
ADN reported several weekend incidents of neo-Nazi graffiti and vandalism.
It said Franz Schoenhuber, leader of the extreme-right Republican Party in West Germany, was turned back by border police Monday when he tried to enter East Berlin. ADN did not say why Schoenhuber wanted to visit East Germany.
Markus Meckel of the opposition Social Democrats accused the government of sowing ″hysteria″ with warnings of neo-Nazism, to try to preserve the secret police.
Konrad Weiss of Democracy Now was quoted by the West German newspaper Bild as estimating the number of neo-Nazis in East Germany at 1,500 or more and describing them as ″a serious threat.″
At Monday’s negotiations, Peter Koch, named by the government to oversee the dissolution of the secret police, said authorities would confiscate all the former agency’s arms by the end of January.
Skeptical delegates bombarded Koch with questions and he agreed to let opposition observers visit his commission.
He said citizen committees and opposition representatives throughout the country were ensuring against a return of the domestic spying, including telephone bugging, used by the Communists for 40 years to control the population.
The talks, involving about 40 delegates, were begun Dec. 7 as a way for the opposition to express grievances and have a say in running the country until the elections May 6.