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Sat, 07 Oct 2017 12:18 - Updated Sat, 07 Oct 2017 12:18

Catalan parliament defies Madrid pressure, works on independence declaration

BARCELONA/MADRID - Catalan secessionists were working on Friday towards a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain that could be adopted next week in defiance of a court order and increased economic pressure from Madrid.

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After Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended a session of the Catalan regional parliament set for Monday, which had been expected to endorse an independence declaration, the parliament said the region’s pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont would address the assembly at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

Madrid apologised for the first time on Friday for police use of violence in trying to hinder a weekend referendum it had declared illegal. That crackdown raised the temperature of a confrontation that has grown into the worst political crisis for decades in Spain.

A Catalan legislator was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying secessionist parties in the Catalan parliament were discussing an independence declaration to be submitted to the assembly next Tuesday.

“We are in talks about a text, with paper and pencil, on the declaration that we want the regional parliament to accept on Tuesday,” Carles Riera, a lawmaker from the pro-independence CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), was quoted as saying.

“Nobody has put forward any scenario of delay, ambiguity or confusion. We are not working on that scenario,” he said.

The stakes are high for the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy. Catalonia is the source of a huge chunk of its tax revenue and hosts multinationals from carmaker Volkswagen to drugs firm AstraZeneca.

The Catalan region’s head of foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, told the BBC earlier that the Catalan parliament intended to make a decision on independence, without specifying when.

“Parliament will discuss, parliament will meet. It will be a debate and this is important,” Romeva said.

The Spanish government stepped up economic pressure on the Catalan government on Friday by passing a law to make it easier for companies to move their operations around the country, potentially dealing a blow to the region’s finances. Reuters

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