East Germany's entire 44-member Cabinet resigned today amid growing nationwide unrest, a continuing exodus of thousands of its people and pleas from within the Communist Party for a sweeping top-level shake-up.
The new Communist Party leader, Egon Krenz, was not involved in the shake-up.
Also today--one day after the government introduced a proposed law promising up to 30 days of travel to the West--a parliamentary committee rejected the measure and urged a more liberal law allowing unrestricted stays abroad.
The 44-member Council of Ministers resigned jointly, government spokesman Wolfgang Meyer said. The Cabinet, led by 75-year-old Premier Willi Stoph, has little power and implements policy made by the Communist Party's ruling Politburo. Stoph and several other ministers also are Politburo members.
"We appeal to the citizens who intend to leave our republic to reconsider their step once more. Our socialist fatherland needs everyone," said a statement issued by the outgoing Cabinet.
Since early Saturday, more than 28,000 East Germans have fled to the West through neighboring Czechoslovakia. They were arriving in West Germany today at the rate of 120 an hour.
The government will remain in office until Parliament elects a new Council of Ministers, Meyer said. He did not say when such an election would occur. The party's Central Committee is to meet Wednesday to consider further changes.
Several Communist officials and three small parties allied with the Communists have urged the Politburo itself to resign.
At least eight Politburo jobs were on the line at a meeting late today.
Krenz has said five elderly Politburo members closely associated with former leader Erich Honecker will be replaced by the end of the week. Two other Politburo members lost their jobs Oct. 18 when Krenz took over.
The Politburo, which normally has 21 members, also discussed an "action program" that Krenz has said would contain sweeping political and economic reforms.
As the government resigned and the Politburo met, about 5,000 people marched in East Berlin to protest election fraud and urge free elections. Police did not intervene as the demonstrators challenged the Communists' monopoly on power and shouted: "All power to the people."
East Germany's embattled leaders have been promising democratic reforms and eased travel restrictions in the hope of halting the growing unrest. But the draft measure allowing 30 days of travel to the West failed to curb discontent.
The constitutional committee of Parliament rejected the measure in its present form, just one day after it was published, the state-run news agency ADN said.
"The proposal does not meet the expectations of citizens . . . and will not achieve the political credibility of the state," the committee said.
The panel recommended lifting the need for exit visas, separating travel regulations from emigration rules, clarifying the access to foreign currency for trips abroad, reconsidering the 30-day limit and changing grounds on which passports can be refused.
The committee also urged an emergency Parliament session to discuss the tense situation and find ways of persuading skeptical citizens to remain at home.