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Basque Parliament Approves Plan to Increase Self-Rule Powers

Basque lawmakers have approved a plan to increase the Spanish region's self-rule powers.

The plan, proposed by Basque regional President Juan Jose Ibarretxe, passed the regional parliament Thursday thanks to the unexpected support of pro-independence lawmakers, who had previously criticized it.

The blueprint now goes to the Spanish national parliament, but observers expect it will be rejected there.

The blueprint would create a separate Basque citizenship, enhance the region's judicial powers and mandate Basque representation before European Union institutions. The plan does not explicitly call for Basque independence.

The current Basque autonomy status has failed to stop violence by the Basque separatist group ETA, which has claimed more than 800 lives in the past 36 years.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.