SEOUL, DEC. 31 -- President-elect Roh Tae Woo, trying to promote national reconciliation in the wake of his disputed election victory, today vowed in a special New Year's statement to "heal old wounds and alleviate lingering suffering."

The statement is the latest in a series of quick moves by Roh to disarm the divided opposition movement, which is struggling to recover from its loss in the election two weeks ago. The defeated opposition candidates, Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung, contend that Roh won due to electoral fraud.

Extending an olive branch to the opposition, Roh's Democratic Justice Party Wednesday decided to propose special legislation to compensate the families of victims of the 1980 uprising in Kwangju, where at least 191 people died when government troops retook the city from rebelling students and dissidents. The ruling DJP also said it would erect an official monument to the bloody uprising and consider restoring the civil rights of dissidents jailed in the rebellion's aftermath.

In a move that took many observers by surprise, the DJP said last week that once Roh is inaugurated in February it will propose legislation to restore the military ranks and pensions of 31 deposed generals who were court-martialled in the wake of the 1979 coup that brought Chun Doo Hwan to power. The most significant beneficiary of the move would be Cheung Sung Hwa, the former four-star general and Army Chief of Staff who recently joined Kim Young Sam's opposition party. Cheung was jailed, demoted to the rank of private and allegedly tortured after the coup.

"Let us promote reconciliation by restoring the honor of those who deserve it," Roh said in his statement, apparently referring to the toppled generals and the Kwangju victims. "The time has come for us to set animosities aside and join forces to build a harmonious national community."

In a separate New Year's statement also released today President Chun said, "We should rid ourselves of any and all vestiges of the old habit of confrontation and strife."

It is unclear, though, whether Roh's effort to appease disgruntled opposition activists and voters will succeed. Skepticism seems to be the leitmotif of the opposition's initial reaction to the pledges by Roh, a former general. So far, for example, there has been no public response from Cheung, the deposed Army chief of staff. Some dissidents have rejected the Kwangju proposals as hollow gestures.

"As long as the people who were involved {in putting down the Kwangju uprising} are still in top Army posts, I don't think Roh can take substantial measures," said a leading dissident who was jailed after the rebellion.

The distrust is fueled, at least in part, by Roh's military background and his decades-long friendship with President Chun. The government's continued jailing of political activists has done little to lighten the somewhat somber political atmosphere in Seoul. According to official statistics released Wednesday, 1,160 people are now serving prison terms or awaiting trial in connection with antigovernment activity. That is nearly two and a half times more than the 465 political prisoners reported last July.

During the election campaign, Roh promised a general amnesty for all political prisoners except those advocating "subversive" ideas favorable to North Korea. As president-elect, Roh will be unable to deliver on that promise until he is inaugurated.

Roh defeated the two Kims in a long-awaited election two weeks ago. Despite the Kims' disputing the election's outcome, a lack of public demonstration on their behalf indicates thin support for their claims. Many political experts believe opposition voters blame the two Kims for failing to join forces before the election, which Roh won with 36 percent of the ballots.