MOSCOW, September 28 (RIA Novosti) - Spain has vowed to block the bid for an independence referendum by the leader of Spain's Catalonia region Artur Mas who signed a decree on Saturday authorizing the vote for November 9, supported by hundreds of protesters outside his office in Barcelona, Euronews reported Sunday.
“The nation’s government has the obligation to protect the rule of law and the rights of Spanish people. Therefore, I’d like to inform you that, this morning, we have taken the first steps to request a judicial review against the referendum decree,” Spain’s deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria was quoted as saying by Euronews.
Earlier, Artur Mas assured that the voting would be peaceful and in respect with the Spanish law.
“Catalonia wants to speak, wants to be heard, and wants to vote. Now is the right time and we have the legal framework to do so,” Mas said on Saturday.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who flew back from China on Saturday when the decree was signed is to convene a cabinet meeting on the issue on Monday.
"We deeply regret the initiative of the president of Catalonia and believe it is an error. It fractures Catalan society, divides Catalans and pushes them further away from Europe," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was reported saying by The Guardian on Saturday.
So far, the Omnibus Opinion Studies Centre indicates that 58.8 percent of Catalans support independence, and 87.6 percent out of 1,600 surveyed people, would accept the November 9 referendum outcome.
Catalonia, an autonomous wealthy region in the north east of Spain, has a population of about 7.6 million people, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country’s economy. While seeking independence for years now, Catalonia was newly encouraged by the Scottish referendum held earlier this month.