Basque nationalist group Batasuna forms new political party

15:12, February 08, 2011      

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The left wing Basque nationalist group, Batasuna, on Monday announced the formation of a new political party, which hopes to be present in the local and regional elections this May.

The unveiling of the party took place in the Palacio Euskalduna in the city of Bilbao.

Batasuna is considered the political wing of terrorist organization ETA, which has killed 829 people in its 45-year struggle for the independence of the Basque region in the north of Spain. It has been illegal since 2003 and therefore is currently prohibited from standing at all elections, because of its failure to openly condemn ETA's violence.

That situation has not changed since ETA announced a "permanent " ceasefire earlier this year, promising an end to violence in that region of Spain.

The name and logo of the new party will be made public on Tuesday, but Batasuna spokesman Rufi Etxeberria indicated a clear change of policy when he said that the new organization was willing to oppose the use of threats and violence, "including that of ETA."

"We do not justify the use of violence, irrespective of who is committing it," said Etxeberria, adding that the new party would also reject "understandings with organizations that could also use violence."

"This is a historic measure and a firm sign of conviction for using the political and democratic path and for a scenario with the total absence of violence," he said.

The ruling Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) welcomed the condemnation of ETA, but made it clear that the new political formation has a lot of work to do before it can stand at the elections.

Meanwhile, the opposition Popular Party insisted that the government should act to ensure the new party would be unable to stand at any elections in May.

Source: Xinhua

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