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Europe

Basque separatist party eyes comeback, rejects violence

Video by Jonathan CRANE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-07

Batasuna, the banned political arm of Basque separatist group ETA, said Monday that it was launching a new party and renouncing violence in a bid to regain a legal status and contest elections. But the move was greeted with widespread scepticism.

REUTERS - Spain's banned Batasuna party, the political arm of the Basque separatist group ETA, launched a new party on Monday in an attempt to regain legal status and contest forthcoming elections.

Batasuna, banned since 2003 for its ties to ETA, wants to run in local elections in May and plans to present its new organisation to Spain's Interior Ministry on Wednesday, including the party's new name, two members of the party told a news conference on Monday.
 
"In the statutes we will present, the (party) rejects and opposes the use of violence ... or the threat of violence for political objectives, and that includes violence of any kind by ETA," party leader Rufi Etxeberria said at a news conference in Bilbao in the Basque region.
 
It will be up to the courts to rule whether the new party can contest elections.
 
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the party's statutes would be reviewed by the public prosecutor's office along with police reports, and the final decision remained with the Spanish courts.
 
"Batasuna's credibility is minimal"
"It is the first time in many years that the banned Batasuna has explicitly rejected violence and it wasn't a gratuitous rejection," said Rubalcaba.
 
"They have done it because there was a firmness on the part of the state, society and its institutions."
 
He added that he considered Batasuna's credibility "minimal" after many years of violence by ETA.
 
ETA, which has killed more than 850 people in its half-century armed struggle for an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France, has been crippled by arrests and Basques' rising support for more peaceful methods.
 
Batasuna and ETA have made a series of gestures toward peace in recent months. ETA declared a permanent ceasefire in January, but the Spanish government rejected it as insufficient.
 
Associations of victims of ETA's violence and some members of Spain's largest political parties have accused Batasuna of opportunism in renouncing violence so close to local elections.

 

Date created : 2011-02-07

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