April 6, 2017 / 3:25 PM / 2 years ago

Basque parliament pressures ETA as disarmament day nears

MADRID (Reuters) - The Basque parliament on Thursday urged ETA to disarm as soon as possible, focusing attention on a pledge by the separatist group to surrender its entire arsenal two days before that handover is due to take place.

ETA declared the end of its bid to establish an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France in 2011 but has only handed over part of its weapons cache to authorities.

It has said it will give up the rest in the French city of Bayonne on Saturday.

However, it is not yet clear how the handover will be organized and if it will be formally accepted by the Spanish and French governments.

The Basque regional parliament in Vitoria-Gasteiz voted by 65 to 9 in support of a motion urging ETA to “carry out a single act of unilateral, complete, definitive and verified disarmament as soon as possible”.

It also called for an international verification commission, which was set up when ETA declared a ceasefire in 2011, to continue supporting the process.

Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP) refuses to negotiate with ETA, instead calling for its total dissolution.

Its representative in the Basque parliament, Alfonso Alonso, said the planned handover was “a dramatization of surrender”.

“ETA lasted such a long time because it had social and political support. The process of socially disarming ETA is not over,” Alonso said.

The Spanish state prosecutor has asked the High Court to examine any arms cache for murder weapons used in unresolved cases, but the judge has yet to give a ruling, a court spokeswoman said.

Additional reporting by Inmaculada Sanz; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and John Stonestreet

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