MADRID (Sputnik) — Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused the Spanish government on Wednesday of a de-facto suspension of the region’s self-governance with its actions to impede the Catalonia independence referendum.
“The Spanish State has de-facto suspended Catalonia’s autonomy,” Puigdemont said in a televised statement after the Catalan government’s emergency meeting amid the searches and arrests carried out earlier in the day.
Earlier the mayor of Rasquera in Catalonia, Spain's autonomous community striving for independence, told Sputnik that the authorities in Madrid had threatened to arrest him if he facilitated the possible independence referendum, but to no avail. Mayor Josep Gonzalez Gil said he had received notification from Spain that he could be arrested, but he is still determined to help facilitate the vote, as he only recognizes the Catalan parliament and government.
Catalonia has been seeking independence from Spain for years. 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. The vote was, however, ruled unconstitutional by Madrid.
On June 9, the president of the autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, said that Catalonia would hold a unilateral referendum on independence on October 1, 2017, prompting criticism and objections from Madrid.
On September 6, Catalonia's Parliament passed a bill enabling an independence referendum to be held on October 1. The Spanish government called the bill illegal and challenged the legislation in the Constitutional Court. The next day, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan law on referendum. Catalan authorities vowed to hold the referendum despite the court's ruling.