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Catalan leader Puigdemont asks parliament to debate Spain's measures

Video by Sarah MORRIS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-10-22

Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont wants the regional parliament to debate and vote on how to respond to what he called the Spanish government's "attempt to wipe out" Catalonia's autonomy.

In a televised address late Saturday, Puigdemont called plans by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to replace him and his Cabinet an "attempt to humiliate" Catalonia and an "attack on democracy."

Puigdemont's comments were a veiled threat to push ahead with an independence declaration for the prosperous region in northeastern Spain. They came after he joined a large protest in Barcelona on Saturday where many were aghast at the plans announced earlier in the day by Rajoy.

"It's interesting because the cheer went up when he finished his speech (...) but he didn't say whether he would declare independence unilaterally. And yet that's something that many protesters in this square had talked to me about," Spain correspondent Sarah Morris told France 24.

Puigdemont called Rajoy's move the "the worst attack" on Catalan people and institutions since General Francisco Franco's abolishment of Catalonia's regional government in 1939.

"Carles Puigdemont wants to win the media war", Franco-Spanish lawyer Jean-Marc sanchez told France 24. "Actually he did not declare independence. He said 'yes', then he said 'no', then he said 'maybe'. But who we are and where we are, we don't know."

"To cut a long story short, only 46% of Catalans voted for independence" - Jean-Marc Sanchez, founder of French-Spanish Bar Association

A 'coup d'etat'

Previously on Saturday, the speaker of the Catalan parliament said Spain's central authorities have made an effective "coup d'etat" in what she called an "authoritarian" attempt to take control of the northeastern region.

Legislator Carme Forcadell said in Barcelona that Spanish Prime Minister "Mariano Rajoy has announced a de facto coup d'etat with the goal of ousting a democratically elected government."

Forcadell said the move is "an authoritarian blow within a member of the European Union."

Rajoy's conservative government is likely to obtain the national Senate's backing next week for extraordinary powers that will allow him to dissolve the Catalan parliament and call an early election. The measures include the sacking of Catalonia's separatist leaders.

Rajoy said the regional parliament will have its powers limited, but will remain in place until new lawmakers are elected in less than six months.

Spanish government actions on Catalonia are "worst attacks" since Franco dictatorship - Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2017-10-21


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