Court halts Cata­lan plans for se­ces­sion

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Aritz Parra and Ciaran Giles

BARCELONA, SPAIN » Spain’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court on Thurs­day or­dered Cat­alo­nia’s par­lia­ment to sus­pend a planned ses­sion next week dur­ing which sep­a­ratist law­mak­ers wanted to de­clare in­de­pen­dence — fur­ther fu­el­ing Spain’s worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in decades.

Cata­lan re­gional au­thor­i­ties pre­vi­ously have ig­nored Con­sti­tu­tional Court or­ders, so it was not im­me­di­ately clear if the ses­sion would go ahead and if all par­ties would at­tend.

The court said its or­der could be ap­pealed but also warned Cata­lan par­lia­ment speaker Carme For­cadell and other mem­bers of the speak­ers’ board that they could face pros­e­cu­tion for fail­ing to halt the ses­sion.

Speak­ing to re­porters, For­cadell called the sus­pen­sion a “vi­o­la­tion of free­dom of speech.”

“I won’t al­low cen­sor­ship to en­ter Par­lia­ment,” she said with­out clar­ify- ing if the meet­ing would go ahead or not.

Ear­lier, Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy urged the sep­a­ratist leader of the re­gional Cata­lan govern­ment, Car­les Puigde­mont, to can­cel plans for declar­ing in­de­pen­dence in or­der to avoid “greater evils.”

In an in­ter­view with Spain’s of­fi­cial EFE news agency, Ra­joy said the so­lu­tion in Cat­alo­nia “is the prompt re­turn to le­gal­ity and the af­fir­ma­tion, as early as pos­si­ble, that there will be no uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence, be­cause that way greater evils will be avoided.”

Ra­joy’s re­marks were the first since Sun­day, when Cat­alo­nia held a banned ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence, amid po­lice vi­o­lence. Puigde­mont said the re­sults of the vote val­i­dated the push to se­cede.

The court or­der came as po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty over Cat­alo­nia’s se­ces­sion bid started spread­ing to the econ­omy, with stock mar­kets fall­ing and big Cata­lan firms re­lo­cat­ing or con­sid­er­ing a move to else­where in Spain.

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