Peking urged to accept democracy

PEKING (AFP) - Leading pro-democracy activists formed a 'Peace Charter' group yesterday, calling on the Communist Party to accept a multi-party system or face the only alternative - violent change. The group's nine founding members, led by the veteran dissident Qin Yongmin, adopted a draft of the 10-article manifesto.

The group said it would begin a nationwide campaign to gather support for the charter, but took pains to avoid the wrath of Peking, which has moved quickly to crush similar challenges.

'Rapid development of a market economy inevitably requires implementing a pluralistic political democracy,' said the draft. The charter recognised that the Communist Party was the only authority capable of 'guiding the mainland's peaceful transformation' and called for the Chinese people to 'acknowledge this fact' and co-operate with the authorities. It appealed for the Chinese people to refrain from protests in the near future to give Peking a chance to initiate change.

But the charter set out demands for the Party, warning of social unrest and even civil war if it missed 'this last chance' for political reform.

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