INTRODUCTION: El Salvador's civilian-military junta has started laying the groundwork for general elections in 1982, aimed at defusing political violence in the country.
GV Four prisoners (on left of picture) standing next to two guards
CUs Prisoners hand-cuffed to guards (3 shots)
SV Junta President Jose Napoleon Duarte speaking in Spanish
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Background: INTRODUCTION: El Salvador's civilian-military junta has started laying the groundwork for general elections in 1982, aimed at defusing political violence in the country. Junta President Jose Napoleon Duarte announced on Friday (6 March) the formation of an electoral council whose job would be to update the country's register of electors and to register political parties. The last general election in El Salvador in 1977 was won by General Carlos Humberto Romero, overthrown in a coup in October 1979. Over the last fourteen months more than 15,000 people have been killed by left and right-wing groups battling to overthrow the Duarte government.
SYNOPSIS: On Wednesday the Salvadorean authorities paraded before the press four prisoners charged with murder and other crimes. The men were described as bandits of no political affiliations who had masqueraded as government soldiers and taken advantage of the current unrest to settle personal scores.
At a news conference later the same day, Mr. Duarte said the junta had decided to extend by one month an amnesty offer to guerrillas originally due to expire next week. And he reaffirmed his willingness to enter into a dialogue with leftist rebels in a quest for peace. But he added the junta was not prepared to negotiate itself out of power. Only elections could decide a government's destiny he said.
Mr. Duarte told newsmen he had ordered the arrest of former army major Roberto D'Abuisson for attempting to provoke a coup. Major D'Abuisson, an intelligence officer during previous military governments, had given a clandestine press conference on Tuesday (3 March) to accuse the junta of flirting with the left. Last week Mr. Duarte dashed West German hopes of negotiating peace in El Salvador by declining an invitation to visit Bonn. He was to have attended a conference in Brussels and Bonn officials hoped to stage a confidential meeting between Mr. Duarte and Guillermo Ungo, leader of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Government.