Spanish court blocks Basque vote on independence

Other News Materials 12 September 2008 01:58 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that a plan by the Basque regional government to stage a referendum-like vote on the self-determination of the northern region was unconstitutional.

The Basque parliament had earlier approved the plan of organizing the vote on October 25. The Spanish government and opposition conservatives lodged a complaint at the Constitutional Court.

Basque Prime Minister Juan Jose Ibarretxe said that if the Constitutional Court blocked the vote, members of his government would take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The vote would have asked the Basques whether they approved of a negotiated solution to Spain's conflict with the militant Basque separatist group ETA and of Basque party talks on the region's right to decide its own future.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government feared that the referendum would encourage separatism in the region of 2.1 million people.

Ibarretxe believes that an open discussion about options including independence would help to solve the problem of ETA, which has killed more than 820 people in its four-decade campaign for a sovereign Basque state.