Catalonia leader asks for international mediation

The leader of Catalonia said on Monday he doesn’t want a “traumatic” break with Spain, a day after the region’s banned independence referendum.

Carles Puigdemont however said Sunday’s vote was valid and binding, and he called for international mediation to resolve the standoff with Madrid.

He also demanded the withdrawal of riot police from the region and called for a special investigation into the crackdown that injured close to 900 people during Sunday’s disputed vote.

“We don’t want a traumatic break … We want a new understanding with the Spanish state,” Puigdemont told a news conference.

“When I speak of international mediation, I do not speak of anyone in particular, surely this cannot be a role played by the European Union. But obviously the EU must act as a sponsor, it has to be involved. It’s clear that the EU must stop looking the other way from what happens in its space.”

Standoff

Puigdemont ‘s comments opened the door to a possible declaration of independence within a few days.

Madrid has called the vote a farce. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has the constitutional power to sack the regional government and put Catalonia under central control pending new elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, authorities said the “Yes” vote stood at 90.1 percent, on a turnout of 2.26 million out of 5.34 million registered voters — or 42 percent.

The tally was no surprise as most of those who backed continued union with Spain were expected to disregard the vote and stay home. Recent opinion polls had put support for independence at only around 40 percent.

The ballot, which asked voters if they wanted an independent republic, was banned by Spain’s Constitutional Court for being at odds with the 1978 constitution, which states Spain cannot be broken up.

Shortly before Puigdemont made his proposal, the European Commission urged all sides to move swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. “Violence can never be an instrument in politics,” it said.
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