Franco exhumation not priority for new leaders: spokesman

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Spain's newly elected leaders Wednesday brushed aside a call for the remains of late dictator Francisco Franco to be dug up and moved.

A commission set up by the outgoing Socialist government has recommended that Franco's body be exhumed from a Civil War monument near Madrid to remove any ideological symbolism from the site.

"We are going to leave this subject to one side because this is not what is worrying Spaniards at the moment," said Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a spokesman for the Popular Party which won November 20 general elections.

"What is worrying them is finding a job, not where Franco is buried," Pons said. "We are going concentrate on the economic crisis," he added, speaking on television channel Telecinco.

Franco has lain for 36 years in a basilica in a giant hillside monument called The Valley of the Fallen, along with tens of thousands of Civil War dead transferred from other graves around the country.

Families of those killed in the 1936-1939 war complain that the man who ruled as a dictator for four decades should not lie in a monument to victims of the conflict that brought him to power.

Franco's descendants opposed the removal of his remains, which would require the authorisation of the Church and possible approval from the parliament, in which the Popular Party has won an absolute majority.

Pedro Cerracin, a lawyer acting for an association campaigning to keep the Valley of the Fallen as it is, said on Wednesday that Franco's daughter Carmen Franco, 85, remained opposed to his exhumation.

"History is what is is," he told Cadena Cope radio. "We cannot change it."

© 2011 AFP

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