Catalonia's leader on Tuesday said he had a mandate to declare independence from Spain but stopped short of actually doing so, suspending secession for "a few weeks" to pursue negotiations with the Spanish government. Image: AP
Madrid: Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont has called for dialogue with Spain after suspending the formal declaration of the region’s independence.
“I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks in the coming weeks without which it is not possible to reach an agreed solution,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.
He said a landslide victory in the region’s disputed October 1 referendum on independence gives his government grounds to implement its long-held desire to break century-old ties with Spain.
“More than two million two hundred thousand Catalans were able to vote because they overcame their fear, and because when they arrived at their polling station, they found ballot boxes, envelopes, voting slips, constituted voting tables and an operative and reliable electoral list,” he said.
A document proclaiming “full sovereignty” for Catalonia was signed by Puigdemont and other Catalan officials proclaiming “full sovereignty” for the region but it was unclear whether the document had any legal basis.
“We call on all states and international organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state,” the document read.
“We call on the Catalan government to take all necessary measures to make possible and fully effective this declaration of independence and the measures contained in the transition law that founds the republic,” it added.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted that his government will do everything in its power, including invoking Article 155 of the Constitution, to stop the Catalan government from declaring independence of the country.
The Catalan government said it earned the right to split from Spain, claiming 90 per cent of those who voted in Sunday’s poll were in favour of independence.
Catalan nationalists have always argued that the region is a separate nation with its own history, culture and language, and that it should have increased fiscal independence.
In 2006, the Spanish government backed Catalonia’s calls for greater powers. But, four years later, that status was rescinded by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that while Catalan is a “nationality,” Catalonia is not a nation in itself.