BUCHAREST, Romania — The provisional government of Romania on Wednesday warned secret- police snipers still holding out in Romanian cities to surrender by nightfall today or face death by firing squad if they are captured.
But after five days of skirmishes between the army and bands of secret police left over from the regime of executed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Bucharest and other major cities were mostly quiet. There has been only sporadic shooting after the Christmas Day execution of Ceausescu and his wife, Elena.
Also on Wednesday, the new government revoked many of the most repressive laws and decrees of Ceausescu's regime, including a massive rural resettlement program widely criticized by international human rights organizations.
The new government moved to dismantle the chief weapons that Ceausescu used to support his regime--the Interior Ministry and its state security police. Provisional President Ion Iliescu transferred the State Security Department, including the remnants of the dreaded Securitate secret police units, from the Interior Ministry to the Defense Ministry.
From the early stages of the Romanian uprising against Ceausescu in Bucharest last week, the Defense Ministry, represented by the armed forces, has been loyal to the National Salvation Front government. State newspapers, recently reborn under new logos to disaffiliate them from the Ceausescu regime, brimmed with praise for the soldiers.
"The Army by the People's Side, the People by the Army's Side," headlined the Communist Party paper, renamed from The Spark to The Truth.
The Interior Ministry, under Ceausescu the most powerful institution in Romania, was left with only the police inspector's office, fire brigades and prisons under its control.
Securitate agents still at large face trial when they surrender but have been promised leniency if they comply with the government's deadline. If they do not surrender, however, the government has warned that "extraordinary tribunals" would employ "emergency measures" and immediate judgment against those who continue to resist--a clear indication that firing squads will be employed.
(Early today, Western diplomats said that some of the secret policemen began heeding the ultimatum and were giving up their weapons to the authorities, Reuters news agency reported.)
With organized fighting in the country mostly over, the new regime has moved quickly to consolidate public support, acting first to repeal some of Ceausescu's most hated policies.
They ranged from a law requiring Romanian citizens in schools, colleges and public meetings to address each other as \o7 tovaras, \f7 the borrowed Russian word meaning "comrade," to a statute on urban and rural planning that led to systematic destruction of entire towns and the forced settlement of hundreds of thousands of Romanians.
Romanian minority communities, mainly Hungarians living in Transylvania and Germans living in the north, had accused Ceausescu of using the resettlement program to break up ethnic communities. The program had been condemned by international human rights organizations.
These same minority organizations were quick to assert themselves under the new government.
On Tuesday, Hungarian activists formed the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania, which set goals of creating a government ministry for minorities; expanding the number of schools teaching in regional ethnic tongues, and officially recognizing the right to use these languages in public. While not officially illegal under Ceausescu, using Hungarian or German often resulted in the arrest of the speakers as foreign agents.
Other laws and decrees revoked by the new government included:
* Laws banning private ownership of copiers and computer printers and requiring all owners of typewriters to provide the security police with a two-page typing sample each year that would allow identification of individual type faces.
* The ban on abortion and related laws forbidding the sale of all contraceptives, part of Ceausescu's plan to increase the number of his subjects from the current 23 million to 30 million by the end of the century.
*The 1976 law that declared Bucharest and 21 other major Romanian cities and towns "closed cities" into which people could not move without official permission.
* The bizarre 1984 resolution of the National Assembly regulating "scientific nourishment" of the population. Under this law, used by Ceausescu as an excuse for food shortages in the population, calorie limits were assigned to citizens based on their jobs. A miner, for example, was allotted 6,000 calories a day, a journalist or a clerk only 2,000. In defense of this law, widely ridiculed outside Romania, Ceausescu several times criticized his own people for overeating and hoarding food.
In fact, one of the key ways the new government appears to be attempting to win the support of the people here is by making more food instantly available on the Romanian market.