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Talks on referendum crisis

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Spanish and Catalan leaders lead separate talks on referendum crisis
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalan President Carles Puigdemont were holding separate meetings Monday as the crisis triggered by an unauthorized Catalan independence referendum marred by violence unfolded.
Barcelona (dpa) - Rajoy started the day meeting officials from his conservative People‘s Party (PP). He was later in the day due to see PSOE socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanchez and then Alberto Rivera of the Catalan unionist Ciudadanos party.
According to the Catalans, 893 people were hurt in clashes with police. Some complained of bruises and panic attacks.

Puigdemont called an "emergency meeting" of his regional government, and was later expected to address the press. On Sunday, he said Catalonia had "gained the right to have an independent state with the status of a republic."

The vote, banned by the Constitutional Court, was severely disrupted by state authorities. According to the Catalans, 893 people were hurt in clashes with police. Some complained of bruises and panic attacks. Only a couple reported serious injuries.

Rajoy said the state "did what [it] had to do" to prevent the illegal ballot. Catalan authorities said that more than 2.2 million people still participated, and, of those, 90 per cent voted for independence. The turnout was 42 per cent.

It is unclear how the government would respond if Catalonia declares independence: it can invoke article 155 of the constitution and suspend the region‘s autonomy, but that would be unprecedented and would almost surely escalate tensions.

Interior Minister Juan Ignazio Zoido talked tough on Monday, telling the RNE and Telecinco networks that the government "will be up to the challenge of preventing a further subversion of the democratic system in Catalonia."


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