Basque separatists launch new party

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Rufino Exteberria, a politician of the outlawed party Batasuna, after he presented the new Basque party, in Bilbao, Spain (AP)

Basque separatists have launched a new political party they say rejects violence by the armed group ETA.

The move is an unprecedented step designed to move the troubled region toward peace.

The party was presented on Monday by more than a dozen activists, including several former members of banned groups and one former ETA militant.

In recent years Spanish courts have banned several Basque parties because they do not condemn ETA, and all parties must reject violence under Spanish law.

The 2003 law has left pro-independence sympathisers associated with ETA without any parliamentary representation.

They now hope that by rejecting all violence including that of ETA, they can take part in municipal elections in May.

It is up to the Interior Ministry to decide if the party can be authorised.

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