Government critics have taken to the streets with charges that a new communist party was created with secret support from the governing National Salvation Front.

More than 3,000 people marched two miles down Bucharest's main boulevard on Monday, shouting anti-communist slogans and railing against the government.The new communist party, called the Socialist Labor Party, was formed last weekend through the merger of the tiny Democratic Labor and Socialist parties, both created after the December revolution that ousted and executed longtime dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The party, led by former Communist Premier Ilie Verdet, describes itself as "a reorganization, on a new basis, of the former Romanian Communist Party."

In a statement Monday, the new party deplored "intolerant movements to discourage our constructive efforts" and pledged to "reject all Stalinist and Ceausescu-ist practices."

But critics were skeptical.

"The communists have infiltrated all the structures of power and quite naturally will try to return us to where we were before," said Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, president of the Former Political Prisoners Association.

Many in the opposition have charged that the National Salvation Front, which took power after the December revolution that ousted Ceausescu, and its leader, President Ion Iliescu, are secret communists.

The demonstrators Monday shouted "Down with Iliescu!" and "The blood was spilled for nought!"

Some carried a large banner that equated the government with communism. It read: "Romanian Communist Party - National Salvation Front - Socialist Labor Party - Romanian Communist Party."

Iliescu and other front leaders, bowing to popular pressure that sprung from hatred of Ceausescu, announced in January that communism would be banned in Romania. Later, they backed away from that position.

A statement issued by the political prisoners' group charged that "almost all the top (Communist Party) members were freed despite their crimes against humanity." It alleged that Ceausescu's feared secret police, the Securitate, "is intact and on duty."

More than 100,000 Romanians demonstrated against the front on Thursday to mark the third anniversary of anti-Ceausescu riots in Brasov, 60 miles north of Bucharest. Those riots were brutally suppressed.

Dissatisfaction with the front has grown since Nov. 1, when price reforms introduced by Premier Petre Roman led to the doubling and tripling of prices.

The front has criticized Roman's reform package as not doing enough to protect the social welfare of citizens.