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ETA political arm's new party to condemn violence

Source: Reuters - Sat 27th Nov 2010

The political wing of Basque separatist group ETA said on Saturday it would soon take steps to form a new party which would condemn violence for the first time.

ETA's political wing, Batasuna, is currently outlawed but wants to put itself on a legal footing in order to run in Basque local elections next May.

"There will be no room for any form of violent coercion" Batasuna representative Rufi Etxeberria told a news conference.

The new group's statutes will be in accordance with the law governing Spain's political parties, and the structure will be free from any kind of interference or subordination, he said, reading from the new political project's draft guidelines.

ETA has killed more than 850 people and maimed hundreds more in a bombing and shooting campaign over more than four decades to carve out an independent homeland from Basque-speaking areas of Spain and France.

Spain's Socialist government has refused to negotiate with ETA or Batasuna since ETA broke a truce with a deadly bomb attack at Madrid's international airport in 2006.

But increased pressure from Batasuna, together with a string of arrests, has turned sentiment within ETA and led it to declare a cease-fire in September. The government reacted sceptically, saying ETA must disarm permanently.

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