BASQUE LEADER DEFIES MADRID TO REVEAL POLL QUESTIONS

Basque Country regional president Juan José Ibarretxe defied the central government Madrid last week and revealed the two of the questions he proposes to put to the Basque people in a referendum later this year. The government has refused Sr Ibarretxe permission to hold the consultation several times since he first proposed it four years ago, most recently during a meeting with Prime Minister José Luis Rodroguez Zapatero in Madrid less than two weeks ago. In the first question, he asks if people would support a process to end violence if ETA agrees to lay down its arms once and for all. In the second, he asks if people would agree to the Basque political parties negotiating a democratic agreement on the Basque people’s right to decide their own future, (i.e. independence from Spain), to be put to a referendum in 2010. Sr Ibarettxe maintains he does not need permission from anyone to hold a referendum and told reporters last Saturday that he would “go home” if the Basque people did not support his plan.

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