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Coalition in Austria to Stay, Chancellor Says

February 16, 1988|Associated Press

VIENNA — Socialist Chancellor Franz Vranitzky said today his coalition government will stay in power despite wide differences over President Kurt Waldheim's insistence on staying in office.

Vranitzky told reporters after a government meeting that he and Alois Mock, his coalition partner and head of the conservative People's Party, met today and decided to continue to govern together, "especially at this difficult time."

In a televised speech Monday night, Waldheim refused to resign in the face of what he termed "slanders, hateful demonstrations and wholesale condemnations" arising from allegations about his World War II past. (Story, Page 5.)

Waldheim appealed for unity, but initial reactions by the two top parties suggested that he had widened rifts in the government.

'Conscious of Role'

Mock, a staunch Waldheim backer, said today that the president "offered dialogue and said clearly he is conscious of his integral role."

Vranitzky said on television Sunday that Waldheim does not have this integral role and must restore his credibility.

Asked if he thought Waldheim's speech helped to achieve those aims, the chancellor told reporters, "Not very much."

"What I really think is necessary for everybody in this country and therefore also for the federal president . . . is to try to . . . get out of this isolation," Vranitzky said.

He said he expects Waldheim to work more to improve the atmosphere in Austria and appear a "politically convincing" figure of state.

In an interview with Saarland state radio, a leading member of the panel of historians that investigated Waldheim, Manfred Messerschmidt of West Germany, called today for him to resign.

Asked if he believes Waldheim should step down, Messerschmidt responded: "I think there will only be peace when Mr. Waldheim takes the consequences (resigns)."

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