Basques from Spain, France launch new ‘independence’ party

Updated 24 February 2013
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Basques from Spain, France launch new ‘independence’ party

PAMPLONA, Spain: Basques from Spain and France yesterday formally launched a new pro-independence party, Sortu, born from the ashes of Batasuna which was outlawed for links to armed separatists, ETA.
About 300 delegates from the Basque regions of Spain and France elected leaders for the left-wing party at a congress in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona.
They chose former Batasuna member Hasier Arraiz Barbadillo, 39, as party leader and as secretary general Arnaldo Otegi, who is in jail for trying to resurrect Batasuna after it was banned in 2003.
Barbadillo told the gathering: “Full freedom is our aim” for the Basque Country, called Euskal Herria in the Basque language, which spans parts of northern Spain and southern France.
“In Euskal Herria and wherever it is present, Sortu will be the mouthpiece for your struggle,” he told delegates.
The left-wing pro-independence movement has gained political weight in Spain over recent years as ETA has declined with many of its leaders getting arrested.
In his absence, Otegi addressed the congress in a letter in which he called on members to “fight in a new political phase” for the independence movement.
ETA is blamed for 829 killings in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland. It is classed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.
It announced a “definitive end” to its armed activity in October 2011 but has not formally disarmed or disbanded as the Spanish and French governments demand.
Otegi called the Basque independence movement “a political conflict that is still unresolved because the Spanish and French states continue to deny the nationhood of Euskal Herria and its right to self-determination.”
Spanish authorities banned Sortu in 2011 because of its links to Batasuna, which was considered the political arm of ETA. The Constitutional Court legalised Sortu in 2012.


Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

Updated 14 November 2018
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Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

  • Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked
  • The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet under tight security Wednesday, after the top court ruled its dissolution illegal and opened the door to a vote on which of two rival prime ministers has the support to rule.
Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the president sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament, and halted preparations for a snap election, in a major boost for the ousted prime minister.
Wickremesinghe is confident he can command a majority and wants a vote on the floor of the 225-member assembly to determine the legitimacy of the government installed by presidential diktat.
“Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ordered the police to ensure that MPs have free access to parliament,” a spokesman for the Speaker said. “There will be tight security.”
Thousands of armed police have been deployed along the key approach roads to parliament, which is located on a man-made lake island, with several anti-riot units on standby.
Parliament officials fear that supporters of Rajapaksa’s party may try to stop legislators getting to parliament.
However, by early Wednesday there were no large crowds and only small pockets of Wickremesinghe supporters gathered near the parliament complex.
Rajapaksa’s party was divided Tuesday on facing a test in parliament. His legislator son Namal Rajapaksa said they will attend the legislature, but other party seniors said they would not.
Sirisena sacked the legislature after his party admitted that they did not have an absolute majority despite engineering the defections of eight legislators from Wickremesinghe’s party.
Since then, at least two legislators have ditched Rajapaksa and joined Wickremesinghe’s UNP party which insists it has a comfortable majority in the House.
Wickremesinghe, who insists he is still the prime minister, has refused to vacate the official Temple Trees residence which is a symbol of state power in the island.
The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration, according to lawmakers on both sides.