By Humphrey Carter

BALEARIC President Francesc Antich yesterday moved to distance the region from any military action against Iraq. “If Iraq is attacked, it will not be with the consent of the Balearic people who have clearly expressed their opposition to the war,” Antich said yesterday. Antich, who took part in Saturday's anti-war march through Palma, said yesterday that the ultimatum issued by President Bush and Prime Ministers Blair and Aznar on Sunday “is a move towards an unjustified and unjust situation.” Antich accused The United States, Spain and the United Kingdom of “creating a new world order by ignoring the United Nations,” a move the leader of the Balearic government described as “incredible.” But with the time ticking away in the countdown to war, Antich's primary concern is the Balearics and he said yesterday that a socialist congress group will this week table an emergency tourism promotion plan to try and offset the damage war in Iraq may inflict on the tourism industry. Antich believes that central government will seize the initiative, pointing out that the tourism industry accounts for ten per cent of Spain's Gross National Product and can not be left to defend itself against the fall out from a Gulf War on its own. Central government delegate to the Balearics, Miguel Ramis, said yesterday that the Spanish government is still working hard to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and that the Balearics is not on a pre-war footing. Ramis claims that the situation in the Balearics was “exactly the same as 48 hours ago, calm, and nothing has changed.” Speaking on behalf of the Spanish government, Ramis repeated “our stance is still the same, no to war.” He added that, as far as he is aware, no warships or aircraft which will be involved in any military strike against Iraq have applied for permission to use Balearic facilities, ports or airports. President Antich has made it quite clear that the local administration does not want any allied forces using Balearic bases, his government wants no involvement with any attacks on Iraq whatsoever. This Saturday another protest march will take place through Palma, the movement for democracy and social globalisation has organised at least two more Saturday protests. Last week Balearic coalition government MP's voted in parliament unanimously in favour of a motion opposing the war and calling on the United Nations to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the Iraq crisis. Opposition Partido Popular MP's voted against the motion, tabling an alternative for Saddam to comply with the present UN requirements and disarm immediately.


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