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Slovakia: Commission Says NATO Referendum Invalid

Bratislava, 26 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Slovakia's Central Referendum Commission has officially told Parliament that the weekend referendum on NATO membership was invalidated by faulty procedures.

The commission said the voting papers did not comply with election rules set out in a presidential decree in that the ballots should have listed four questions, but in fact had only three.

The commission did not confirm the Statistics' office announcement that fewer than 10 percent of registered voters participated. Reporters say it is now up to the constitutional court to rule formally on whether the referendum is invalid.

The referendum is at the centre of a row pitting the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar against President Michal Kovac and the main opposition parties. The fourth question was to have been whether the president should be directly elected -- a change opposed by Meciar. That question was dropped from the referendum on the orders of Interior Minister Gustav Krajci following a court ruling against it. The opposition has demanded the ouster of Krajci.