EAST BERLIN — Communist Prime Minister Hans Modrow offered places in his Cabinet to opposition groups Monday in order to keep the struggling East German government intact until elections scheduled for May.
Two of the opposition groups, including the Social Democratic Party, indicated they would accept the offer to keep the government from collapsing.
Ibrahim Boehme, leader of the Social Democrats, said at the regular "round-table" meeting of the government and opposition groups that he is generally in favor of the move. But he said conditions for joining the coalition government should be set out in advance and that other major opposition groups should be included.
"I believe that such participation is possible," Boehme said, "only if all parties and groups at the round table are prepared to join the government on an emergency basis, without long negotiations that would further damage the country."
A spokesman for the Democratic Awakening Party expressed support for Boehme's position.
The reformist Modrow, seeking to avert a government crisis, said his offer to include opposition members was "not just a friendly gesture but a reflection of the prevailing conditions."
Modrow told the meeting--five government parties and a dozen independent groups were represented--that candidates for posts in the government must have professional credentials for the jobs.
The nine-week-old Modrow government has been beset with criticism that it has not moved quickly enough to bring about reform nor pushed through an electoral law for the scheduled May 6 elections, which would be the first free and open elections in East Germany.
The government suffered another setback Monday when Finance Minister Uta Nickel resigned. She has been accused of financial irregularities and is under investigation but has denied any wrongdoing.