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Fri, 06 Oct 2017 14:35 - Updated Fri, 06 Oct 2017 14:35

Catalan parliament to defy Spanish ban on independence debate, official says

BARCELONA/MADRID - Catalonia’s parliament will defy a Spanish court ban and go ahead on Monday with a debate that could lead to a declaration of independence, a regional government official said, as Spain’s worst political crisis in decades looked set to deepen.

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“Parliament will discuss, parliament will meet. It will be a debate, and this is important,” the Catalan government’s head of foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, told BBC radio on Friday.

It was the pro-independence regional government’s first clear response to a Constitutional Court decision on Thursday to suspend Monday’s planned parliamentary session, and it raised the prospect of a tough response from the central government.

Spanish Prime Mariano Rajoy has offered all-party political talks to find a solution, opening the door to a deal giving Catalonia more autonomy. But he has ruled out independence and rejected a Catalan proposal for international mediation.

Spanish ruling-party lawmakers say Rajoy is considering invoking the constitution to dissolve the regional parliament and force fresh Catalan elections if the region’s government goes ahead with an independence declaration.

On Thursday, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, said parliamentary leaders had not yet decided whether to defy the central court and go ahead with the session. Reuters

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