THE leader of Catalonia has warned Spain not to try and “take control” of its government insisting that would be Madrid’s “ultimate mistake.”
Speaking with the BBC following Sunday’s divisive referendum, Carles Puigdemont claimed the autonomous region could declare independence “within days”.
He said his call to the Spanish government following Sunday’s vote – which Catalan officials claim yielded a 2.26 million turnout with 90 per cent voting “yes” – received “no response, none at all.”
Asked what he would do if Spain tried to “take control” of the devolved regional government, he said: “It will be another error in a long list of mistakes. After each mistake, we have become stronger.
“Today we are closer to independence than we were a month ago.
“Each week, after every mistake, we’ve gained more support from society – a bigger majority in Catalonia who do not accept this situation.
“So a more clear cut error – like taking over our administration or arresting members of our government including me, this could be the ultimate mistake.”
A fiery Puigdemont also slammed the Spanish government and police for the violent scenes outside polling stations on Sunday.
He said: “Hitting old women and people who have done nothing wrong – this is not acceptable.”
“We have not seen a more disproportionate and brutal use of force since the death of the dictator Franco.”
Puigdemont told the BBC his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.
Crowds supporting the Catalan’s nationalists in Barcelona last night yelled for national security forces to get out of the region, branding them “occupation forces” and raising their middle fingers at a police helicopter circling overhead.
Tens of thousands surged through the streets of the northeastern region against action by the police who tried to disrupt Sunday’s vote by firing rubber bullets and charging into crowds with truncheons.
When asked what he would do if the Spanish government were to intervene and take control of Catalonia’s government, Mr Puigdemont said it would be “an error which changes everything”.
Catalan’s bid for separation is considered Spain’s worst political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981, which was defused by the current king’s father, King Juan Carlos I.
Catalan officials say that 90 percent of the 2.3 million people who voted were in favour of independence.
But fewer than half of those eligible to vote turned out.
The vote was boycotted by most of Spain’s national parties on grounds that it was illegal and lacked basic guarantees, such as transparency, a proper census or an independent electoral governing body.
Mr Puigdemont said there was currently no contact between the government in Madrid and his devolved administration.
He was speaking shortly before the monarch made a televised speech.
King Felipe VI made the rare television appearance in the evening and accused authorities in Catalonia of deliberately bending the law and undermining coexistence, adding that the Spanish state has a duty to ensure unity and constitutional order in the country.
“Today, Catalan society is fractured,” Felipe said in his address to the nation, referring to the political crisis as “very serious moments for our democratic life”.
Police unions and political experts warned that Spain’s government risks losing control of Catalonia, Spain’s richest region,.
It has a political movement for secession that has strengthened in recent years.
Those who participated in Sunday’s ballot voted overwhelmingly for independence, a result that was expected since residents who favour remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the referendum.