‘Stop look­ing away af­ter vote vi­o­lence’

Cat­alo­nia: Leader de­mands in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - WORLD NEWS - BY ARTIZ PARRA

Cat­alo­nia’s leader has called for in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tion and for the Euro­pean Union “to stop look­ing the other way” in the re­gion’s bid to se­cede from Spain, a day af­ter a vi­o­lent crack­down by Span­ish po­lice try­ing to block ref­er­en­dum voting.

Car­les Puigde­mont also said he would file a com­plaint against Span­ish po­lice af­ter of­fi­cers fired rub­ber bul­lets, smashed into polling sta­tions on Sun­day and beat back pro­test­ers with ba­tons.

Mr Puigde­mont also urged Spain’s na­tional po­lice re­in­force­ments to leave the north-east­ern re­gion. How­ever, Span­ish au­thor­i­ties com­mended of­fi­cers, say­ing they had acted pro­fes­sion­ally.

Spain’s in­te­rior min­is­ter said the 5,000 of­fi­cers de­ployed to Cat­alo­nia would stay as long as nec­es­sary.

Cata­lan of­fi­cials say a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers sup­ported in­de­pen­dence from Spain, but the cen­tral govern­ment in Madrid has re­peat­edly con­demned the ref­er­en­dum as il­le­gal.

The EU and most gov­ern­ments in the 28-na­tion bloc have not backed Cat­alo­nia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment, fear­ful that it could un­leash a wave of se­ces­sion­ist move­ments.

But Mr Puigde­mont called for the EU to con­sider Cat­alo­nia’s de­sire to break away from Spain as a re­gional prob­lem, and urged Span­ish prime min­is­ter Mariano Ra­joy’s govern­ment to ac­cept me­di­a­tion.

“The Euro­pean Union has to stop look­ing the other way,” Mr Puigde­mont said.

“This is not a do­mes­tic is­sue. The need for me­di­a­tion is ev­i­dent.”

More than 890 peo­ple were in­jured, most of them not se­ri­ously, in con­fronta­tions with po­lice try­ing to shut down the voting. More than 30 po­lice of­fi­cers were also in­jured.

Speak­ing af­ter a closed­door meet­ing, the Cata­lan pres­i­dent said the re­gional par­lia­ment plans to de­clare in­de­pen­dence in the next few days.

The im­passe de­vel­oped af­ter Cata­lan au­thor­i­ties de­cided to go ahead with Sun­day’s ref­er­en­dum even af­ter Spain’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court suspended it.

Cat­alo­nia said pre­lim­i­nary poll re­sults showed 90% favoured in­de­pen­dence af­ter less than half the elec­torate voted.

The EU urged all sides in Spain to move from con­fronta­tion to di­a­logue.

“These are times for unity and sta­bil­ity,” EU spokesman Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas said.

PROTEST: Cata­lan po­lice stand in front of pro­test­ers in Barcelona as they ges­ture at Span­ish po­lice against vi­o­lence that marred the vote

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