Newly elected East German President Egon Krenz Tuesday sternly warned against further pro-democracy demonstrations, and communist authorities for the first time admitted that police had attacked peaceful activists.
Further protests were expected late Tuesday in East Berlin, a day after more than 300,000 people marched through the streets of Leipzig demanding greater freedom. It was the largest street protest in the nation's 40-year history.Parliament elected Krenz as president, and he promised to investigate charges of police brutality against pro-democracy demonstrators earlier this month. Krenz was in charge of police forces at the time.
Krenz, a 52-year-old career politician, last week was named the new Communist Party chief, East Germany's supreme leadership post.
Krenz urged an end to further demonstrations.
"Demonstrations, however peacefully they may be planned and thought out, carry within themselves the danger of ending in a different way from how they started," Krenz told the People's Chamber after his election.
"Our society, which has so many new things to tackle, is thus put under increasing tension," he said, calling on East Germans to refrain from demonstrations to avoid a "worsening of situation or confrontation."
The official East German news agency ADN said Parliament elected Krenz, who took over as party chief late Wednesday, with a large majority of the votes in the 500-member chamber.
But for the first time during an election of an East German president, there were votes against the single candidate. Twenty-six members of the People's Chamber voted against Krenz and another 26 abstained, according to Parliament speaker Horst Sindermann.
Parliament is under the tight control of the Communist Party, and Krenz's election as president was assured after his nomination by the 21-member ruling Politburo. The People's Chamber also elected Krenz to be the head of the nation's armed forces, with eight votes against and 17 abstentions, ADN said.
East German officials Tuesday admitted for the first time that police had attacked peaceful pro-democracy protesters earlier this month.
"There were instances where security officials exceeded their authority and illegal acts were committed against some of those detained," the government said in a statement released by ADN.
The report was prepared by the national defense and justice affairs committees in parliament, ADN said.
ADN said the government later decided to use restraint during mass demonstrations "unless there is violence or the threat of violence," and that use of firearms to quell demonstrators had been prohibited.
Police officials have apologized to victims of verifiable police brutality, ADN said. The news agency said 83 complaints of police brutality are under initial review and four cases have been taken up by prosecutors.