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Catalan lawmakers vote ‘yes’ to independence referendum



Catalonia’s regional parliament has voted in favor of holding a referendum on independence from mainland Spain next year despite mounting pressure from the central government against the vote.

The Catalan parliament voted on Thursday to hold a referendum to determine the breakaway from Spain in September 2017.

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his conservative People’s Party (PP) have repeatedly rejected the notion of an independence referendum pursued by separatists in the autonomous northeastern region.

In a coordinated move, Spain’s Constitutional Court said it might file criminal charges against the Catalan parliament’s speaker for allowing the vote.

The court on Thursday called on prosecutors to investigate if Catalan Parliament Speaker Carme Forcadell committed a crime by allowing the parliament to approve a resolution expressing the region’s intent to go ahead with its independence bid.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, announced that it has launched proceedings against Francesc Homs, a Catalan deputy in Spain’s parliament, for his alleged role in staging an informal independence referendum in November 2014.

Artur Mas, former president of Catalonia’s regional government, and two other officials already face charges for their alleged roles in the 2014 referendum, which showed more than 80 percent of the Catalan voters were in favor of independence from Spain.

Ex-President of the Catalan regional government Artur Mas (L) with President Carles Puigdemont. (Photo by AFP)

Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, said last Wednesday that he was open to talks with Madrid on the terms of a legally binding referendum; However, he said the autonomous region would hold the Independence referendum with or without Spain’s consent.

Puigdemont comfortably won a parliamentary confidence vote last Thursday in a show of unity that he hoped would spur further support for his independence agenda.

The resource-rich region of Catalonia has a population of over 7.5 million people and its own separate language.

The Catalan people believe Madrid’s unfair distribution of the region’s abundant wealth has been to their loss.

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