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Slovakia: U.S. Says Referendum Flawed

Washington, 28 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United States says Slovakia's weekend referendum on its membership in the NATO alliance was flawed.

State Department spokesman John Dinger told reporters yesterday that the referendum was "a matter of serious concern to the United States."

He said the process was gravely flawed and said that as a result Slovak voters were unable to express their will on two issues of obvious importance to them.

The ballot, approved by the referendum commission, contained four questions. Three were on NATO admission and one on direct presidential election. However, Interior Minister Gustav Krajci distributed ballots with only three questions, all concerning NATO.

The referendum, seen as a test of democracy in Slovakia, was widely boycotted and officially declared void Monday.

Dinger said the United States viewed the Slovak government's conduct during this referendum as a step backward from what he said was the democratic record of free and fair elections in Slovakia since 1989.

He said the government's failure to comply with the decisions of the commission, the authority responsible under Slovak law for overseeing the referendum, showed a lack of respect for the rule of law by the government of Slovakia.