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Catalonia parties, unions hold summit on planned independence vote



Representatives of Catalonia’s pro-independence civil, cultural and political organizations have come together in a Barcelona summit to discuss preparations for a referendum next year on separation from mainland Spain.

Members of Catalonia’s National Alliance for the Right to Self-Determination, which brings together pro-secession political groups in Spain’s semi-autonomous region, met on Friday to set out the course of the independence vote planned to be held in September 2017.

Among the participants were Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, the region’s Vice President Oriol Junqueras, its Minister for Foreign Affairs Raül Romeva and other members of the local government.

Representatives of Catalan political parties, workers’ unions and social groups including Barcelona mayor Ada Colau also attended the meeting.

The goal of the meeting was said to be drawing up a “national pact” for the vote in the wealthy northeastern region.

The participants discussed measures such as organizing a campaign to promote the referendum within Spain and across the world despite opposition from Spain’s central government and relevant legal barriers.

“Today’s summit represents a leap forward,” Puigdemont said after the Friday event, insisting that the summit sought to “enhance” support for the independence referendum “beyond political parties.”

The development came after Catalan lawmakers in Barcelona began a process for pursuing secession from Spain in November 2015, intending to achieve political independence by 2017. Madrid, however, voiced strong opposition to the move.

During a vote in the Catalan parliament at the time, 72 legislators voted in favor of a resolution for parting from Spain, while 63 lawmakers voted against.

The Spanish Constitutional Court has suspended the plan, but the Catalan executive insists that the schedule remains unchanged.

The resource-rich and wealthy region of Catalonia has been the scene of growing separatist sentiments in recent years. Pro-independence people complain that the region pays more taxes than it should to Madrid.

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