Catalan leader says ‘has mandate to declare independence’, proposes more dialogue



Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says he has a mandate to declare independence for the northeastern region, but proposes waiting “a few weeks” in order to facilitate a dialogue.

Catalonia’s parliament opened a highly anticipated session that could spell the birth of a new republic, marking a critical point in a decade-long standoff between Catalan separatists and Spain’s central authorities.

Security is tight in Barcelona and police cordoned off a park surrounding the legislative building, where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was expected to walk a fine line during an address to regional lawmakers.

Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament that a landslide victory in the region’s disputed October 1 referendum on independence gives his government grounds to implement its long-held desire to break century-old ties with Spain. But he suggested holding off.

Puigdemont’s speech was highly critical of the Spanish government’s response to the referendum, but he said Catalans have nothing against Spain or Spaniards, and that they want to understand each other better.

At the end of his speech, Puigdemont was applauded by standing separatist lawmakers.