Catalan leader wants deal
BARCELONA – Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said yesterday his people voted for independence from Spain – but that he wanted a negotiated solution with Madrid.
He asked the regional parliament in Barcelona to suspend the effect of the vote so talks could begin – rather than breaking away immediately.
The disputed referendum on October 1 resulted in almost 90 per cent of voters backing independence, said Catalan officials. Madrid said it was illegal and Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended it.
Anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot – which had a reported turnout of 43 per cent – and there were several reports of irregularities.
National police were involved in violent scenes as they manhandled voters.
Puigdemont told the regional parliament that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.
He hailed the referendum process and condemned the actions of the Spanish government, but acknowledged that people on all sides were worried about what would happen next.
“We are all part of the same community and we need to go forward together. The only way forward is democracy and peace,” he told deputies.
But he also said Catalonia was being denied the right to self-determination, and paying too much in taxes to the central government in Madrid.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria responded to yesterday’s developments by saying: “Neither Mr Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim ... to impose mediation. Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for this morning to address the latest moves in the crisis. (BBC)