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Reject Report on War or Else--Waldheim : Threatens to Dissolve Parliament Amid Talk by Coalition Leaders

February 11, 1988|Associated Press

VIENNA — President Kurt Waldheim threatened to dissolve the government if it accepts a report questioning his World War II conduct, government sources said today.

According to government sources, the president met Monday with Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and deputy Chancellor Alois Mock, head of the People's Party and a staunch Waldheim supporter. At that meeting, Waldheim demanded the government reject a report by a panel of six historians questioning his integrity during World War II, and he threatened to dismiss the government if it didn't, the sources said.

No president in post-World War II Austria has used his constitutional power to dismiss the government.

Waldheim, former secretary-general of the United Nations, has denied allegations he participated in war crimes while serving with the German army in the Balkans during World War II. The allegations were raised during his 1986 presidential campaign.

The government issued a statement Tuesday but said nothing about accepting the report.

The statement included an assertion by the chairman of the historians' panel, Hans Rudolf Kurz, that "there was no participation in war crimes and no personally culpable conduct by Dr. Waldheim."

Not in Historians' Report

Kurz's statement is not in the historians' report, but Waldheim has used it to justify staying in office.

Sources said Vranitzky and Mock agreed to the statement after meeting with Waldheim.

The government sources also said today that the coalition parties were discussing Waldheim's replacement.

But it is considered impossible for the government to unseat Waldheim by constitutional means. Under Austria's constitution, a president can be unseated only if he violates the constitution or if the government and two-thirds of Parliament agree to hold a national referendum on the issue.

Reports from government sources and the daily Die Presse newspaper indicated that even Waldheim's supporters in the conservative People's Party, which governs in coalition with the Socialists, were backing away from the president, increasing pressure on him to resign.

Meanwhile Waldheim's spokesman Gerold Christian said the president was preparing a statement to the nation, likely to be televised.

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