Date :3/24/03 3:42:04 PM
  No.: 22
llll bbbb SPA-22-politics/Former Spanish minister resigns from rulingparty over Iraq

Madrid, March. 24, SPA------ Spain's former labor minister Manuel Pimentel has become the first prominent member of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's conservative Popular Party (PP) to resign over Spain's participation in the war against Iraq, press reports said Monday.

Pimentel announced Sunday that he would resign from the party overan "illicit war" which constituted an "error".

He accused Aznar of gagging dissent within his party despite massive public opposition against the war. Five local councilors werethe only ones to have resigned so far.

-----SPA 1547 Local Time 1247 GMT

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