00:06 GMT31 March 2020
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    Catalonia will hold a unilateral referendum on independence on October 1, 2017, if it does not reach an agreement with the central government to carry out a consultation in an agreed manner, the president of the country's autonomous region of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont Casamajo, said Friday.

    MADRID (Sputnik) — On May 24, Puigdemont sent a letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy inviting him to start negotiations on the terms and conditions of the referendum in which the citizens of Catalonia will decide the political future of the region. On May 25, Rajoy refused to hold such talks.

    "In fulfillment of the democratic mandate, today we have held an extraordinary Executive Council to jointly ratify the exercise of the legitimate right to self-determination of a thousand-year-old nation like Catalonia by a referendum to be held on October 1 of this year," Puigdemont told reporters.

    In September 2016, Puigdemont pledged to look for an agreement on independence from Spain. Shortly afterward, the Catalan parliament voted in favor of two resolutions: one, which called on the regional government to hold an independence referendum in the fall of 2017, and a second, which aimed at coordinating the autonomous community's conduct with the central Spanish authorities.

    In March, Catalonia approved a draft budget which included an allocation of 5.8 million euros ($6.2 million) toward preparations for the independence referendum this year. The Spanish government decided to challenge the budget and launched a probe into the actions of the Generalitat, Catalonia's government.

    On November 9, 2014, about 80 percent of the Catalans who took part in a non-binding referendum on the region's status as part of Spain voted in favor of Catalonia becoming an independent state. Madrid has declared the referendum unconstitutional.

    independence referendum, Carles Puigdemont, Spain, Catalonia
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