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Catalonia urges Int'l mediation amid referendum dispute

(CNTV)    15:07, October 03, 2017

Catalonia’s leader on Monday called for international mediation and for the European Union “to stop looking the other way” in the region’s bid to secede from Spain, a day after a violent crackdown by Spanish police trying to block referendum voting.

Carles Puigdemont also said that he would file a complaint against Spanish police after officers fired rubber bullets, smashed into polling stations Sunday and beat back protesters with batons. Puigdemont didn’t give further details, but urged Spain’s national police reinforcements to leave the northeastern region.

But Spanish authorities commended police, saying they acted professionally and that their response was proportionate. And Spain’s interior minister said that the 5,000 extra officers deployed to Catalonia would stay as long as necessary.

Catalan officials say an overwhelming majority of voters supported independence from Spain, but the central government in Madrid has repeatedly condemned the referendum as illegal, unconstitutional and invalid.

The EU and most governments in the 28-nation bloc haven’t backed Catalonia’s independence movement, fearful that it could unleash a wave of secessionist movements on the continent.

But Puigdemont called for the EU to consider Catalonia’s desire to break away from Spain as a regional problem, and urged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to accept mediation.

“The European Union has to stop looking the other way,” Puigdemont said. “This is not a domestic issue. The need for mediation is evident.”

Earlier Monday, an EU statement implored both sides to pull back from confrontation in favor of dialogue. More than 890 people were injured, most of them not seriously, in confrontations with police trying to shut down the voting. More than 30 police officers were also injured.

The Catalan president said the regional parliament plans to declare independence in the next few days. He spoke after a closed-door Cabinet meeting Monday.

The referendum debacle brought Spain and Catalonia closer to a potentially disastrous showdown as each side said Sunday’s events proved them right and neither looked prepared to cede ground.

Rajoy, meanwhile, will meet with Popular Party leaders before seeking a parliamentary session to discuss how to confront the country’s most serious crisis in decades.

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(Web editor: Bianji, Wu Chengliang)

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