Slovenia Party Liberals Sever National Ties

From Associated Press

Slovenia's liberal Communists on Sunday broke away from the national Communist Party and declared they no longer recognize the party that has ruled Yugoslavia since World War II.

The move follows disputes over the pace of democratic reform and a virtual trade war between the relatively affluent republic of Slovenia and archrival Serbia, the largest and most populous of Yugoslavia's six republics.

The break from the national party by the Slovenians was the first formal party schism since the Communists took power in 1945.

In Sunday's emergency meeting, the Slovenian party also changed its name and called for the release of all political prisoners, an end to all political trials and immediate talks between Yugoslav Communists and leaders of newly formed opposition parties.

The old party, the League of Communists of Slovenia, became the League of Communists of Slovenia--the Party of Democratic Renewal.

Slovenia's Communist Party president, Ciril Ribicic, said the new party is not seeking secession from Yugoslavia for the republic but the formation of a Yugoslav confederation that restricts central authority.

"This is the end of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, in which Slovenian Communists had the status of an unequal minority," said Ribicic, using the formal name of the national party.

The national party "doesn't exist any more for us," said Petar Bekes, another Slovenian party leader.

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