ETA called mini-truce to protect key vote

10th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Attacks of the terrorist group came to a stop as the Basque parliament debates and votes on a plan for self-rule in the region.

10 July 2008

MADRID - ETA ordered a "mini-truce" toward the end of June - albeit without officially declaring a ceasefire - in order to allow the Basque parliament to debate and vote on a plan for a plebiscite on self-rule in the region.

The Basque regional president, Juan José Ibarretxe, of the Basque Nationalist Party, who was behind the controversial bill, was indirectly made aware of the intentions of the terrorist group several days before the vote took place on 27 June, Basque nationalist sources have revealed.

However, the brief pause in ETA's activities - whose last attacks were carried out on 8 June and 4 July, leaving nearly a month with no strikes - does not appear to be a sign of a relaxation in their terror campaign.

Nationalist and Socialist sources both believe that the group will continue to mount attacks, with Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba suggesting that ETA has a new leader after the detention of previous head Javier López Peña on 20 May 2008.

The decision to not attack in the weeks before and after the vote were thought to have been taken in ETA's own interest, rather than in an attempt to save Ibarretxe political trouble.

The 27 June law passed by the Basque parliament appears doomed to failure, given that central government plans to overrule it on the basis that only the national parliament can sanction such a plebiscite.

Meanwhile, the High Court ruled Wednesday that the failure of local councils to remove the signs of streets and public facilities named after ETA terrorists does not constitute an offense of glorifying terrorism. Several cases have been brought against mayors in the Basque region for not changing existing names.

[El Pais / Luis R. Aizpeolea / Expatica]

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