Flower are placed on the tomb of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco inside the basilica at the the Valley of the Fallen monument near El Escorial, outside Madrid, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. Spain's center-left government has approved legal amendments that it says will ensure the remains of former dictator Gen. Francisco Franco can soon be dug up and removed from a controversial mausoleum. (AP Photo/Andrea Comas)

MADRID — About 100 people have gathered in Madrid to protest plans by the Spanish government to exhume the remains of Gen. Francisco Franco from a controversial mausoleum to the late dictator.

Many of the protesters waved out-of-date Spanish flags dating back to Franco's four decades of authoritarian rule following his military uprising which started the 1936-1939 Spanish civil war.

On his death in 1975 Franco was buried in the Valley of the Fallen, a mausoleum he ordered built 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Madrid.

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has pledged to return Franco's remains to his family before the end of the year.

Protesters on Saturday held signs reading "Sanchez out of office and leave Franco in peace" and "Hands off the Valley and Franco as well."

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

Associated Press