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East Germany Welcomes Foreign Observers to May Elections

January 27, 1990

EAST BERLIN (AP) _ East Germany’s Communists said Saturday they would welcome international supervision to ensure fairness in the country’s first free elections.

A front-page editorial in the party daily Neues Deutschland said having a team of foreign observers monitor the campaign and the May 6 elections would be ″good and practical.″

It urged opposition groups to accept the proposal, which has been introduced in Parliament by interim President Manfred Gerlach, a member of one of the non-Communist parties in Premier Hans Modrow’s coalition government.

″Even if all precautions are taken for free and fair elections, an additional safeguard cannot hurt,″ Neues Deutschland said.

Joachim Herrmann, 61, a former Politburo member who controlled the state media in the ousted hard-line leadership of Erich Honecker, meanwhile became the latest disgraced top official to be arrested, a week after his expulsion from the Communist Party.

The official news agency ADN said prosecutors were investigating whether he could be tried for high treason. It quoted a statement by the chief prosecutor’s office as saying the probe was based on his alleged ″responsibility for the unconstitutional media policy of past years.″

Herrmann was the top propaganda official in the now-dissolved Communist Party Central Committee, a post through which the Communists controlled national media, including television and radio.

The prosecutor’s office also issued an arrest warrant for Gerhard Schuerer, former head of the State Planning Commission, on corruption charges, ADN said. Schuerer was expelled from the party last week.

New Forum, the largest opposition movement and one of the most diffuse, on Saturday began a two-day congress in East Berlin to chart its course in preparation for the May elections.

Opposition groups on Friday accepted Modrow’s offer to join the government, but only if all Cabinet members renounce their politcal affiliations.

A new group, the German Forum Party, began preparing for the elections by opening its founding congress in Karl-Marx-Stad Saturday.

A delegate, Frank-Thomas Heinze, said the party will advocate free market concepts and German unity, according to ADN.

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