Barcelona's Gerard Pique prepared to quit Spain national team over Catalonia vote

Lawrence Cooper
October 7, 2017

Spain's King Felipe VI made a rare televised address to the country, criticizing the Catalan government after the region held an independence referendum on Sunday. The autonomous Catalan government has called for global mediation.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the rule of law had prevailed in Catalonia because the independence referendum in the region prohibited by the courts had been blocked.

The violent response of Spanish authorities to the referendum - broadcast worldwide with images of police using rubber bullets and batons on voters - has prompted discomfort internationally and fury in Catalonia.

Although only 2.26 million people out of an eligible 5.3 million Catalans voted, a turnout of around 42 percent, 90 percent of those who did go to the polls voted for independence.

In a fiery speech on Tuesday evening, Spain's King Felipe accused the Catalan authorities of "scorning" Spanish unity and threatening the stability of the whole country.

Catalonia is one of the richest parts of Spain.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia's regional government, has offered his support to protesters.

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Puigdemont said there was now no contact between the government in Madrid and his devolved administration.

"Despite all of the challenges and the horrendous scenes we saw in Catalonia yesterday, the overwhelming majority of those who voted, voted for independence".

The judge leading the judicial investigation, Carmen Lamela, also summoned the leaders of two prominent Catalan pro-independence civil groups: Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

Several thousand people gathered outside Barcelona's town hall Tuesday morning where the executive of the autonomous Catalan government was meeting.

The region's leaders defied Madrid by holding a banned referendum on independence on Sunday.

Nonetheless, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, has called on Spanish authorities to conduct "impartial investigations" into the police violence, while Catalonia's government has vowed to seek European Union sanctions against Madrid.

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