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Catalan leader calls for international mediation in Madrid stand-off


The leader of Catalonia called for international mediation on Monday to resolve a standoff with Madrid, the day after hundreds were injured as police tried to forcibly disrupt a referendum on independence that had been ruled illegal, APA rpeorts quoting Reuters.

 

Spain’s biggest constitutional crisis in decades has raised fears of unrest and prolonged political instability in its wealthiest region, deepening the divide between Madrid and Barcelona and threatening the economic outlook.

 

The crisis could deepen further if the Catalan regional parliament uses the vote as justification for a unilateral declaration of independence, a move foreseen by the region’s referendum law if a majority voted to leave Spain.

 

“It is not a domestic matter,” Carles Puigdemont told a news conference on Monday. He said it was “obvious that we need mediation”, adding: “We don’t want a traumatic break ... We want a new understanding with the Spanish state.”

 

The sight of riot police using rubber bullets and batons in a show of force to stop the vote shocked Spain, at a stroke raising the temperature of a standoff that had been passionate but civil, and drawing international condemnation. Authorities said almost 900 people had been injured.

 

Despite calling for mediation, Puigdemont, who went ahead with the referendum in defiance of a court order, said the vote was valid and binding, and had to be applied.

 

His comments opened the door to a possible declaration of independence within a few days, although that would be flatly rejected by Madrid, which has called the vote a farce.

 

With 95 percent of the vote counted, authorities said the “Yes” vote stood at 90.1 percent, on a turnout of 2.26 million out of 5.34 million registered voters.

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