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Spain bans two Basque parties ahead of March election

 Spain bans two Basque parties ahead of March election
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The Spanish High Court has banned two Basque parties for three years because of their links to the Basque separatist group ETA.

The Accion Nacionalista Vasca and the Partido Comunista de la Tierra Vasca will now be prevented from taking part in the March 9 elections.

The decision now goes to the Supreme Court, which has already banned and declared illegal Batasuna, formally ETA’s political wing.

However the ban will not affect the positions already held by party members on councils and in the Basque country’s regional government.

Hours before the ruling was handed down, ETA detonated a bomb in the coastal town of Bergara, damaging a courthouse and shops in the area. There are no reports of any injuries.

ETA is a big issue in the Spanish election campaign with the ruling Socialists under fire for having tried to negotiate with the group, which has killed 800 people in its 40-year battle for independence.

Both banned parties have had their bank accounts blocked and will no longer receive state funds,. Their offices, which the court claimed were being used by ETA and Batasuna, must also close.