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Slovakia: Thousands Protest Government's Handling Of Referendum

Bratislava, 4 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Thousands of people honked horns and blew whistles in Bratislava yesterday to show their anger over government interference in last month's referendum on NATO membership.

The referendum was widely boycotted after ballots were withdrawn because of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's objections to a question on how to elect the president.

Correspondents say about 8,000 people attended the protest in the capital. The demonstration was organized by the eight opposition parities that had gathered the signatures to put the presidential question on the ballot.

European Union Commissioner Hans Van Den Broek has questioned the government's handling of the referendum. Slovak President Michal Kovac said the failure of the referendum dooms Slovakia's chances for early membership in NATO or the European Union.