BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The Federal Chamber of the Yugoslav Parliament Wednesday urged the central government to prevent the ruling nationalist coalition in Slovenia from holding a plebiscite on independence for the republic.
The motion was approved at the end of a six-hour debate on plebiscite to be held Sunday. Delegates from Slovenia staged a walkout, protesting that a discussion should await the outcome of the vote, which is expected to be overwhelmingly for independence.
The republic's leaders have stressed that passage will not mean automatic secession, but represent a bargaining chip in their efforts to change the constitutional framework of the multi-ethnic nation of 23 million.
The Federal Chamber supported a finding rendered Tuesday by the nation's eight-man collective presidency that said the plebiscite is 'anti-constitutional' because any move by a republic toward secession must be blessed by the other five republics.
The motion asked the Constitutional Court, Yugoslavia's highest judicial body, to rule on the legality of the plebiscite. The panel later announced that it would decide by Friday whether to issue a temporary restraining order.
Slovenia's ruling Democratic Union, a coalition of nationalist parties that ousted communists in April polls, called the plebiscite to give it the right to declare independence if its plan for a new federal constitution is rejected.
Slovenia, joined by Croatia, wants Yugoslavia made a confederation of independent states because of fears of domination by the largest republic, Serbia, whose ruling Communists have been fanning Serbian nationalism to maintain their lock on power.
Croatia and Slovenia, the most liberal and economically developed republics, also contend that they derive insufficient benefits from federal spending compared to the amount of funds they contribute.
The Croatian and Slovenian assemblies adopted measures earlier this year declaring the sovereignty of their republics and giving their laws pre-eminence over federal statutes.
Serbia's Communists reject confederation unless Serbia's borders are expanded to include Serbian enclaves in other republics, a demand that has fueled fears of civil war.
Rising opposition among various segements of the country to the plebiscite has provoked concerns of intervention by the Communist-led Yugoslav military, which has indicated it will use force to preserve the federation formed in 1918.
Slovenian authorities have responded by posting paramilitary police reinforcements around government buildings and other key installations.
Speaking to the Federal Chamber during the debate, Yugoslav Deputy Defense Minister Stane Brovet said the armed forces would act according to the orders of Parliament and the constitution.
'The Yugoslav People's Army will not do anything which is beyond the will of this parliamentary chamber, the Parliament of Yugoslavia, beyond the constitution and law, and those who count on treason and capitulation will gravely deceive themselves.'
Deputy Foreign Minister Milivoj Maksic said other nations oppose shifts in Yugoslavia's frontiers for strategic reasons.
'Nobody in Europe wants a change of borders and the disintegration of Yugoslavia would lead to a possible disintegration of far bigger states and this might violate the international balance in the world,' he said.
Said Ibro Hadzic, a delegate from Bosnia-Herzegovina: 'With this referendum, Slovenia opens an unconstitutional way for rearranging the country which could have unforeseeable consequences and could lead to the fanning of ethnic conflicts.'
'The federal organs, when this plebiscite is in question, should act to prevent non-constitutional activities and protect interests of all citizens of the country,' he said.