The Latest: Catalan leader urges Spain to accept mediation
Catalonia’s leader is again urging the Spanish government to accept mediation in one the country’s deepest political crisis in decades as he vows to push ahead with a roadmap for the region’s secession “in the next few days.”
In a televised speech late on Wednesday, regional president Carles Puigdemont condemned violence by police who tried to halt an independence referendum on Sunday that central authorities opposed.
“We held the referendum amid an unprecedented repression and in the following days we will show our best face to apply the results of the referendum,” Puigdemont said.
The separatist leader also called the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “irresponsible” for not accepting mediation in the deadlock, and criticized King Felipe VI for following what he said were the government’s “catastrophic” policies toward Catalonia.
“You have disappointed many Catalans,” Puigdemont told the king.
The Catalan parliament’s secretary and attorney say that a planned plenary session to debate how the northeastern region’s independence bid proceeds is unlawful and should be halted.
Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, is addressing regional lawmakers on Monday to review a referendum won by supporters of independence from Spain on Oct. 1. The referendum and its legal framework had been put on ice by Spain’s Constitutional Court, the reason why the parliament’s legal counselors say the session should be halted.
Puigdemont says the vote, which took place amid police attempts to stop it that left hundreds injured, is valid and legitimates a declaration to break away from Spain.
The Spanish government says the vote was illegal and not valid, and blames Puigdemont for the violence.
Opposition parties have announced plans to appeal to the Constitutional Court to halt Monday’s plenary session in the regional legislative.
Spain’s main stock market index has lost more than 2.8 percentage points as shares of Catalan banks sank further amid certainty over how the region’s secession bid proceeds.
The Ibex 35 index, which groups shares of the country’s leading companies, sank below the 10,000 points mark for the first time in two years.
Shares of Caixabank decreased 5 percent and Banco Sabadell’s 5.7 percent, but losses were spread across the Spanish banking industry. Telecommunications giant Telelefonica, fashion retailer Inditex and leading energy companies Repsol, Iberdrola and Gas Natural also suffered significant losses.
Biotechnology company Oryzon performed against the tide, its shares gaining nearly 13 percent after it announced late on Tuesday that it was moving its headquarters from Catalonia to Madrid.
Catalonia’s president is due to speak later on Wednesday after secessionist regional lawmakers announced the region’s independence declaration would be Monday. Spain opposes it.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans says there is a “general consensus that regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law when organizing the referendum.”
Timmermans was referring to the disputed independence vote Sunday in Catalonia, which the Spanish government in Madrid says violates the constitution. Spanish police left over 900 voters and others injured as they tried to stop the vote, and say over 400 police were left with bruises.
In a statement Wednesday to the European parliament, Timmermans said, in the 28-nation bloc, “respect for the rule of law is not optional, it is fundamental.”
Timmermans also said “it is fundamental that the constitution of every one of our member states are upheld and respected.”