Catalonia to declare independence 'in matter of days,' region's leader says

Catalan pro-referendum supporters vowed Saturday to ignore a police ultimatum to leave the schools they are occupying for use in a referendum vote on seeking independence from Spain.

Public transport nearly does not operate in Catalonia as a result of the mass strikes.

In an extended interview, we get an update on developments in Spain, where tensions are escalating over Sunday's independence referendum in the northeast region of Catalonia.

A total of 893 people were injured in clashes with police attempting to thwart the public from voting last weekend.

"Today, Catalan society is fractured and in conflict", he said.

"These are hard times, but we will overcome them".

On Tuesday, huge crowds held street protests and unions staged a strike in Catalonia to protest against the alleged police brutality.

More than 50 roadblocks in the city caused big traffic jams. Metro service ran at only 25 percent at its peak hours.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club made the decision as a protest against the violent clashes rather than security concerns. Police officers were seen firing rubber bullets, storming into polling stations and pulling women by their hair.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the vote illegal, and the referendum has been ruled illegal also by the country's top court.

"Under the Spanish constitution, yesterday's vote in Catalonia was not legal", the European Union executive's chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a regular news briefing on Monday. "We are here to defend the rights and liberties of all Spaniards that have been trampled upon by the regional government".

Catalan officials said preliminary results showed 90 percent of the 2.26 million who voted were in favor of a split.

Meanwhile, political leaders are trying to find a way forward. "With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic", Puigdemont said in a televised address.

Mr Timmermans said the regional government of Catalonia had ignored the law by holding the referendum, and he said the matter was an internal one for Spain, which had to be dealt with in line with constitutional order of Spain.

  • Angelo Rivera