The body of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco was exhumed Thursday from the grandiose mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen before being transferred to a more discreet, private resting place.

The much-criticized operation fulfills a decades-old desire of many in Spain who considered Franco's mausoleum an affront to his victims and to Spain's standing as a modern democratic state.

The exhumation and reburial will not put an end to Franco's legacy on the contemporary Spanish political scene, particularly as it comes just weeks ahead of a Nov. 10 general election that is certain to see Spain's main parties of the left and right battling it out once again.

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