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Catalan leader’s statements should now be considered by court — Spanish authorities

October 29, 2:58 UTC+3 MADRID

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said a decision has been made to relieve Puigdemont of his duties on Friday

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© EPA-EFE/ANDREU DALMAU

MADRID, October 29. /TASS/. The Spanish government believes that statements by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, dismissed from his office on Friday, should from now on be considered by the judiciary, the El Pais newspaper reported on Saturday.

According to the paper, the Spanish government does not see Puigdemont as the region’s official head.

On Friday, the parliament of Catalonia supported a resolution to proclaim an independent republic in the region. In its turn, the upper chamber of the Spanish government granted a request by the authorities to enact the Spanish constitution’s article 155, allowing to impose restrictions on Catalonia’s self-governance. The article has never been applied before.

Shortly after, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said a decision has been made to relieve Puigdemont of his duties. The premier also announced that the regional parliament and the government of Catalonia were dismissed, and elections have been slated for December 21.

Puigdemont responded on Saturday that he was set to continue leading the region toward becoming an independent state and called on Catalan people to render peaceful democratic resistance to the Spanish government’s move.

"The Spanish council of ministers resolved to end the work of the entire Catalan government, to interfere into the work of our self-administration bodies and to dismiss the parliament. Those decisions contradict the will expressed by our country’s citizens at polling stations," he said.

Puigdemont added that the region’s authorities with their course for independence were supported by the people during the 2015 legislative elections, when the majority of citizens voted in favor of parties openly calling for independence. "The [parliamentary] majority, formed during those elections, approved the declaration of independence in the parliament," he said.

"We will keep working to build a free country, to guarantee the creation of a society with less injustice, greater equality and greater fraternity with all nations of the world, beginning with the people of Spain, with whom we seek mutual respect and recognition," Puigdemont went on. "We need to retain our composure, persistence and the vision of perspective."

"The best way to defend the present-day achievements is to offer democratic resistance to article 155 [of the Spanish constitution]. We need to do this, retaining our civil and peaceful conduct at every moment," he said, thanking his supporters for their "reaction of a mature nation."

"We will continue to move forward with the only attitude that can bring us victory - [the attitude that] rejects violence and offensive rhetoric, with an inclusive approach that respects people, symbols, opinions and also with respect to protests by Catalans who disagree with decisions of the parliamentary majority," Puigdemont said.

On October 1, Catalonia held a referendum on seceding from Spain. As many as 2.28 million out of 5.31 million Catalan eligible voters took part in the plebiscite. A total of 90.18% of the voters, or more than two million people, said "yes" to Catalonia’s independence. Madrid described the referendum as illegitimate and refused to recognize its results.

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