Two Basque groups should be barred from election

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The Spanish Public Prosecutor is seeking to ban separatist political parties.

MADRID—Two Basque separatist groups should be barred from taking part in upcoming legislative elections in Spain's northern Basque region, the Public Prosecutor's office said Wednesday.

Candidates from "Democracy 3,000,000" and Askatasuna, which means "freedom" in the Basque language, are expected run for regional parliamentary elections on March 1.

But Spanish prosecutors want to prevent them from doing so, arguing both are closely connected to the banned political party Batasuna, which is itself accused of being the political arm of the Basque armed separatist group ETA.

Authorities could lodge proceedings with the country's supreme court at the start of February to ban both parties.

"The prosecutor's office is working with the idea of annulling the (parties') candidacies," a judicial official said.

The office is awaiting police reports on both parties and their potential candidates before making a final decision.

Batasuna has been outlawed since 2003 for refusing to condemn violence and cut its links to ETA, which has killed 825 people in a 40-year-old campaign for an independent Basque homeland.

In the last general elections in March 2008, the Supreme Court also barred two small Basque parties, the Communist Party of Basque Lands (PCTV) and the Basque Nationalist Action (ANV), from participating, on grounds they were offshoots of Batasuna.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero tried unsuccessfully to resolve the Basque problem in 2006. But he has taken a hard line against the separatists since ETA called off a 15-month-old ceasefire the following year, and has repeatedly ruled out any new negotiations.

ETA has killed six people since the end of the June 2007 ceasefire.


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