HIGH­WAY TO EL

Catalan leader calls for ‘peace­ful’ re­sis­tance as Spain takes con­trol

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - BY EMILY RETTER Se­nior Fea­ture Writer in Barcelona emily.retter@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

SACKED Catalan leader Car­les Puigde­mont yes­ter­day called for in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers to put up ‘peace­ful’ re­sis­tance in the may­hem of the Span­ish takeover.

As ten­sions continued to rise in the trou­bled re­gion, the ousted pres­i­dent vowed in a pre-recorded TV ad­dress never to stand down.

His call for calm came af­ter a dra­matic mass protest on Barcelona’s streets by a 17,000-strong pro-in­de­pen­dence crowd on Fri­day in­cited an­gry vi­o­lent clashes with pro-na­tional groups.

Puigde­mont coolly re­sponded to the grow­ing fury by go­ing out for drinks and lunch at a restau­rant in his home­town of Girona yes­ter­day, as his state­ment played out on na­tional TV.

But he still faces the real threat of ar­rest on Mon­day over Fri­day’s ‘il­le­gal’ dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence af­ter Catalan MPs’ 70 to 40 vote in favour of a repub­lic – boy­cotted by the op­po­si­tion.

SEIZED

The move was the fi­nal straw for Span­ish PM Mar­i­ano Ra­joy who fired Puigde­mont along with his Cab­i­net and Cat­alo­nia’s chief po­lice of­fi­cers and seized con­trol of the trou­bled re­gion.

He plans to hold a new state­con­trolled re­gional elec­tion on De­cem­ber 21. Span­ish gov­ern­ment spokesman Inigo Men­dez de Vigo said if Puigde­mont re­fused to aban­don his of­fice Madrid would act with “in­tel­li­gence and with com­mon sense”. Asked what might hap­pen if the Catalan leader faced pros­e­cu­tors, he said: “No one is above the law.”

But Spain faces a rough ride in this con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis. In­de­pen­dence ac­tivists have vowed to form hu­man chains around build­ings to pro­tect of­fi­cials, and around 200,000 civil ser­vants have said they will not ac­cept or­ders from Madrid.

One Catalan union has called a 10-day strike in sup­port of the new repub­lic start­ing on Mon­day.

Mean­while cel­e­bra­tions of the ‘in­de­pen­dence’ were still go­ing on last night.

Mum Olga Amar­gant, 45, and her daugh­ter Sara, seven, were draped in the Catalan flag.

Olga said: “I want Spain to think about our democ­racy. We voted for this. That should be re­spected.” Mon­ica Vaz and Nuria Valle, both 17, added: “Peo­ple are

full of hope.”

AGAINST A unity pro­tes­tor faces riot po­lice DE­TER­MINED Sup­port­ers in Barcelona cel­e­brate ‘in­de­pen­dence ‘

OUSTED But Puigde­mont vows to stay

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