News ID: 199899
Published: 0439 GMT September 03, 2017

Catalonia leader urges opposition to suspension of his duties

Catalonia leader urges opposition to suspension of his duties

Leader of Spain’s Catalonia region has reiterated that he and other officials would resist efforts by Madrid to hamper a planned referendum on independence, saying pushing him out of office ahead of the vote was something out of speculation.

“The circumstances under which one ceases to be head of the Catalan regional government are regulated by Catalonia's autonomy statute, so we should oppose a suspension of this type,” Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Sunday, adding, “I can't accept in any way a suspension of my duties.”

Puigdemont was referring to a legislation that sets out Catalonia's powers. Under the law, the Catalan parliament can remove the head of the regional government. The official would also be removed from office in case of conviction of a crime if the penalty includes a ban on holding public office.

However, Spain's constitutional court could suspend public servants if they ignore its rulings based on a law passed in 2015. The court has repeatedly branded the October 1 referendum as illegal.

Puigdemont said efforts by government in Madrid to hamper the referendum would not deter the Catalan government, saying the vote will go ahead as planned. He said some 6,000 ballot boxes were ready for the vote despite reports indicating that firms offering logistical help to stage the referendum would be punished by Madrid.

The Catalan leader said even if fewer than 50 percent of eligible Catalans turned out at the referendum, the results would be valid. He said Spain's 2005 referendum on a treaty establishing a European Union constitution recorded a turnout of just over 42 percent.

Some 41.1 percent of eligible voters are in favor of Catalonia’s independence, a recent poll by the regional government suggests, adding that 49.4 percent are against breaking from the Spanish mainland.

Catalonia, a region with its own language and customs and significant self-governing powers, has a population of 7.5 million people.

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