Spain rejects Basque referendum on independence

May 20th, 2008 - 11:49 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, May 20 (DPA) The Spanish government Tuesday reiterated its rejection of a Basque plan of a referendum on a self-government bordering on independence, which the Basque regional government is proposing as a solution to the violence of the militant separatist group ETA. Spain could not accept the plan, which did not respect the constitution nor have a wide backing in Basque society, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said after meeting Basque regional Premier Juan Jose Ibarretxe in Madrid.

Ibarretxe accused Zapatero of only caring about his Socialist Party’s success in the upcoming Basque regional elections, but said he nevertheless believed an agreement to still be possible.

Ibarretxe has announced the referendum for Oct 25, but even some sectors of his own Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) are against it.

It is expected that the vote would consult the Basques on the future of their region, including a self-government bordering on independence.

There are fears that the vote would lend legitimacy to ETA. Spain has expressed willingness to enlarge the Basque region’s autonomy in exchange of Ibarretxe abandoning his plan.

At least 380 people have been died over the years in violence triggered by ETA. The most recent victim, police officer Juan Manuel Pinuel, who died in a car bombing last week.

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