Spain bars ETA-linked candidates from elections

Sun May 1, 2011 9:53pm GMT

By Martin Roberts

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Supreme Court ruled on Sunday the newly formed "Bildu" alliance could not run in forthcoming municipal elections because of some candidates' ties to the political wing of armed separatist group ETA.

An official said the Court upheld by nine votes to six -- with one undecided -- a government appeal against Bildu contesting the polls after more than 12 hours of deliberations.

Bildu may appeal to the Constitutional Court against the ruling, which will be published in full on Monday.

"Bildu" grouped leftist Basque independence parties and unaffiliated activists after the Court denied legal status in March to "Sortu," a party relaunched as a successor to banned ETA ally Batasuna.

Unlike Batasuna, Sortu renounced violence and its launch followed a cease-fire declared by ETA in January, which the government swiftly dismissed as an electoral ploy.

The government broke off talks with ETA when the armed group broke a cease-fire in December 2006 by killing two in a bomb attack on Madrid airport.

"It (Bildu) is part of ETA's strategy," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said last week. "Some of its members have a direct link to the outlawed Batasuna."

Rubalcaba enjoys the highest rating of any minister in Spain's Socialist government due to leading a crack-down by security forces which has weakened ETA by arresting key leaders and uncovering several of their arms dumps.   Continued...

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