THE PRESIDENT of Spain’s Catalonia region, Quim Torra, has said he will push for a new independence referendum, as protests continued into a fifth day.
He has condemned violence which saw protesters clash with riot police after nine separatist leaders were jailed for their role in a failed push for independence but has said another independence vote should go ahead within two years.
Speaking in the Catalan parliament, Mr Torra said that the sentences handed down to Catalan leaders would not stop a second vote from going ahead.
“We’ll return to the ballot box again on self-determination. If all parties and groups make it possible, we have to be able to finish this legislative term by validating independence,” he said.
The Catalan parliament’s term ends in December 2021.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has warned Catalan officials of the legal consequences if they break the law by pursuing independence
Mr Torra also called for an end to the current violence. He said: “We will not permit incidents like those we are seeing in the streets.
“This has to stop right now. There is no reason nor justification for burning cars, nor any other vandalism.”
However despite his call for non-violence, the Spanish authorities say they are investigating who is co-ordinating the disruption. Mr Torra blamed “infiltrators” but government spokeswoman Isabel Celaá described those instigating the violence as “co-ordinated young Catalans” whose actions were not improvised.
Protesters have reportedly been using an app known as Tsunami Democràtic, which directs them to protest sites in Catalan cities.
Demonstrators have been detained in Barcelona, Lleida, Tarragona and Girona as the protests spread across Spain’s north-east region.
Barricades were set alight and petrol bombs thrown as riots gripped the centre of Barcelona.
A general strike has been called in Catalonia today (Friday), marking the end of a week of protests following the ruling of Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday.