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Franco-defending ex generals on Spanish election slate

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Madrid (AFP)

Two retired Spanish generals who signed a manifesto demanding respect for late dictator Francisco Franco will run as candidates for far-right party Vox in next month's general election, the party said Monday.

Agustin Rosety Fernandez de Castro will head the upstart party's list in the southern province of Cadiz in the April 28 polls while Alberto Asarta will head its list in the eastern province of Castellon, Vox said on Twitter.

The two were among the roughly 200 high-ranking, retired army officials who signed a manifesto published in July 2018 which denounced an "infamous campaign" to discredit Franco, who it said was being "vilified today to inconceivable extremes".

The manifesto was published on the website of a retired military group shortly after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's minority Socialist government announced it planned to exhume Franco's remains from an opulent mausoleum near Madrid and move them to a more discreet spot.

Franco came to power after Spain's 1936-39 civil war, which was triggered by his rebellion against an elected Republican government. He ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1975.

The planned exhumation of his remains has revived tensions dating back to the civil war and the subsequent four decades of Franco's rule. It is fiercely resisted by Franco's heirs and many on the right.

Polls suggest Vox, which campaigns against illegal immigration and "radical" feminism, will become the first far-right party to win seats in the Spanish parliament since the late 70s and could emerge as a kingmaker in Spain's increasingly fragmented political landscape.

The party, founded in late 2013, sent shockwaves through Spain after winning a surprise 11 percent of the vote and 12 seats in a regional election in Andalusia in December.

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