Europe

Catalan Leader Says Region Won The Right To Be Independent From Spain

In a speech to the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont said he will follow the will of those who voted in the Oct. 1 referendum.

Catalan Leader Says Region Won The Right To Be Independent From Spain
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Catalonia's president said the region won the right to independence from Spain.

In a speech to the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont said he will follow the will of those who voted in the Oct. 1 referendum. But he's delaying any formal changes until his government can discuss the issue with the Spanish government. 

Puigdemont's declaration comes after the Catalan government held a referendum Oct. 1 where 90 percent of voters were in favor of separating from Spain. Voter turnout was almost 43 percent

But the Spanish government argues the referendum itself was illegal. Spanish police and security forces tried to prevent Catalans from voting, causing violent clashes.

Since then, Spanish officials have refused to negotiate, despite thousands of people across Spain urging both sides to engage in dialouge. 

Spain's prime minister previously said he wouldn't rule out invoking article 155 of the constitution to forcibly remove Catalonia's regional government from office and hold a new election. 

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On Monday, France's minister of European affairs said the country won't recognize an independent Catalonia.

Puigdemont said, "If everyone acts responsibly, the conflict can be resolved in a calm and agreed manner." But it's unclear how long Catalan leaders will wait to start a dialogue with Spain.  

Correction: A previous version of this story was unclear about which countries border Catalonia.