ETA's banned political wing to unveil new party: newspaper

27th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Batasuna, the banned political wing of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, will unveil a new party on December 10 which it hopes will be allowed to stand in municipal elections next year, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Before the launch, Batasuna will on November 27 present the basis of a new political strategy at a public event in Bilbao, centre-right daily newspaper El Mundo reported, citing sources close to the Basque separatist movement.

Batasuna has been banned since 2003 for refusing to condemn acts of violence by ETA, which is held responsible for 829 deaths in more than 40 years of bombings and shootings for independence for the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France.

It was the first political party to be banned in Spain since it returned to democracy after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975.

In a video message sent to the BBC on September 5, ETA announced it had decided "months ago" to halt "armed offensive actions". Two weeks later it called on international mediators to help resolve the decades-old conflict.

But El Mundo said Batasuna "feels it is necessary that ETA make a public statement of greater reach and depth than its previous one where it limited itself to noting the existence of a halt in armed offensive actions".

Batasuna wants ETA to allow international observers to verify any ceasefire by the outfit, the newspaper added.

ETA's announcements have been met with scepticism from the government and the public because it has broken such ceasefires without warning in the past.

The group announced a "permanent ceasefire" in March 2006 and started tentative peace talks with Madrid.

But in December 2006 it set off a bomb in a car park at Madrid's airport, killing two men, and in June 2007 it formally called off that ceasefire, citing a lack of concessions by the government in peace talks.

© 2010 AFP

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