Catalonia suspends independence declaration after controversial referendum

Catalonia's president and regional leaders have already signed a declaration of independence from Spain after a controversial referendum on Oct. 1. However, it has suspended the move temporarily to pave the way for talks with Madrid.

(REUTERS / Susana Vera)People attend a pro-independence rally near the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain October 10, 2017.

Catalan leaders said their recent independence referendum resulted in a 90 percent 'Yes' vote for Catalonia to be recognized as an "independent and sovereign state," but Spain's Constitutional Court has dismissed the vote as invalid, BBC detailed.

Because of this, Catalonia recently suspended the implementation of its independence declaration even though the document has already been signed by President Carles Puigdemont and other leaders to allow for talks to take place with the Spanish central government in Madrid.

On Oct. 10, Puigdemont said Catalonia had won its right to be independent from Spain because of the result of the referendum. The vote reportedly had a 43 percent turnout, and national police had to intervene in incidents of violence.

Puigdemont said the "people's will" was to be independent from Madrid, but he acknowledged that he wants to avoid adding to the already existing tension because of the issue. He said the only way to achieve this was to work for democracy and peace.

People were visibly disappointed when Puigdemont announced the suspension of the declaration of independence. The BBC says he was ultimately buying time to pressure Spain into allowing Catalonia to conduct a legitimate referendum.

Meanwhile, Spanish church leaders have called for unity and integration amidst Catalonia's move toward independence. In a newsletter published over the weekend, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Valencia denounced the referendum as an "act of sedition" and warned that it could harm relationships in the community, the Catholic News Service relayed.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, the deputy prime minister of Spain, warned that Madrid would do everything that was necessary to bring law and democracy back in case Catalonia proclaimed its independence.

The European Union has said Catalonia would no longer be part of the group in the event that it would officially break away from Spain. Meanwhile, Catalan separatists are urging Puigdemont to declare independence soon and not to take notice of Spain's threats.