Catalan President calls for international mediation over independence

ANI | Updated: Oct 03, 2017 04:23 IST

London [U.K.], October 3 (ANI): The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, has called for international mediation to resolve the region's growing crisis with the Spanish Government, saying Europe cannot continue to ignore the issue after around 900 people were injured during the police crackdown on the referendum.

"The European Commission must encourage international mediation. It cannot look the other way any longer," The Guardian quoted Puigdemont, as saying.

Reportedly, around 900 were injured on Sunday as the riot police raided polling stations and fired rubber bullets. Regional officials said more than 800 people were injured.

The Catalan government has claimed victory in a contested referendum on independence from Spain.

Of around 2.2 million ballots counted, about 90 per cent were in favour of independence. Catalonia has 5.3 million total eligible voters.

Declining to intervene in what it has described as an internal Spanish matter, the European Commission urged both sides to "move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue".

"Violence can never be an instrument in politics. We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein," the commission said, in a statement.

Catalonia's separatist government had pushed forward with the vote despite opposition from Madrid and a ruling from the country's top court declaring it illegal.

The vote risks plunging the country into one of its worst political crises since the end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship in 1975. Catalonia has its own regional government, with considerable powers over healthcare, education and tax collection.

The region has, however, long complained that its revenues subsidise other parts of Spain.

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 But, four years later, that status was rescinded by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that while Catalan is a "nationality," Catalonia is not a nation itself. (ANI)