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Catalan Leaders Defy King of Spain Over Independence

Catalan Leaders Defy King of Spain Over IndependenceCatalan Leaders Defy King of Spain Over Independence

Tension mounted in Spain on Wednesday after Catalonia’s leader vowed that the region would declare independence within days, defying a stern warning from the country’s king that national stability was in peril.

The courts meanwhile placed Catalan police officials and pro-independence civil leaders under investigation for alleged “sedition” as Spain sank deeper into its worst political crisis in decades, AFP reported.

King Felipe VI branded the independence drive illegal and undemocratic, throwing his weight behind the national government.

But Catalan leaders dug in, buoyed by anger at a violent police crackdown against voters during Sunday’s referendum on independence which had been banned by Madrid and the courts.

The Catalan government will “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next” to declare independence, its leader Carles Puigdemont told the BBC in an interview.

The far-left party CUP said on Wednesday that Catalonia’s regional parliament will consider a declaration of independence from Spain on Monday.

CUP parliament member Mireia Boya said the Catalan government plans to present the results of last Sunday’s disputed referendum on Monday, which will trigger a declaration of independence.

Boya said “Oct. 9 will be the session to declare the independence of Catalonia.”

The move would intensify the standoff with the central government, which along with the national courts has branded the referendum illegal.

The national government has the power to suspend the semi-autonomous status that Catalonia currently enjoys under Spain’s system of regional government.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has yet to respond publicly to Sunday’s vote, but the king’s intervention could clear the way for him to act.

“It is the responsibility of the legitimate state powers to ensure constitutional order,” Felipe said.

The king, 49, abandoned his previously measured tone over tensions with Catalonia, accusing its leaders of acting outside the law.

“With their irresponsible conduct they could put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia and all of Spain,” he said.

Felipe’s dramatic intervention was a gauge of tension in Spain, which he said is “going through a very serious moment for our democratic life.”

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied in fury on Tuesday over violence by Spanish riot police against voters taking part in the referendum on Sunday.

A general strike in the region shut down tourist sites, Barcelona football Club and the city’s major port.

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