31 May 2004
MADRID – Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy challenged the government Monday to say before the European election if it will send Spanish troops to Haiti or Afghanistan.
Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party, said in the name of “transparency and respect for truth” citizens need to know the government police over this issue.
The move came as the political battle over the European parliamentary election on 13 June hotted up.
Government sources have indicated that prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero told Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last week he was prepared to send troops to disaster-hit Haiti, where hundreds have died in torrential rains.
But Zapatero said whether Spain sent troops depended ultimately on a decision from the United Nations on helping Haiti.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos said Monday there was “still no decision” on sending troops to the Caribbean island.
But Rajoy seized on this apparent difference of opinion between Zapatero and Moratinos, saying: “We have seen contradictory decisions.”
Rajoy said he would not say what policy the PP would take on the issue, until he heard the response of the government.
The issue of sending troops to Haiti or Afghanistan would be exploited by the opposition after the Socialists withdrew Spanish soldiers from Iraq.
The PP would claim it showed hypocrisy on the part of Zapatero’s government.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news