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Spanish mayor outlaws dying

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LANJARON, Spain (AP) -- Tongue planted firmly in cheek, the mayor has banned death. He feels the local cemetery is too crowded for a soul to get decent eternal rest.

So the 4,000 residents of this village in Granada province of southern Spain should remain alive while municipal officials shop for land to house a new graveyard, Mayor Jose Rubio says.Rubio, 58, issued an edict last week ordering people "to take utmost care of their health so they do not die until town hall takes the necessary steps to acquire land suitable for our deceased to rest in glory."

"It is hereby forbidden to die in Lanjaron," the edict added.

Rubio says the ban on death is his response to politicians pestering him for a quick fix.

The edict is not about hubris, he insists. "I am just a mayor," he said. "Above me there is God, who is ultimately the one who runs things."

Rubio said there had been some good-natured grumbling from people worried about their livelihood, like gravediggers, florists, funeral parlor owners and the local priest.

But overall, the edict is wildly popular, even among his political opponents. "Everyone has taken the edict with a sense of humor and a strong desire to comply with it," Rubio said.