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Leader of Spain's Catalonia region says he wants early polls on independence

26 november 2014, 13:53

 The head of the regional government of Spain's Catalonia region, Artur Mas, said Tuesday he wants to hold early elections centred on independence, AFP reports.

The election, which would involve a joint list of candidates of all parties in favour of independence, is the "only" way to allow Catalans to voice their opinion after a symbolic independence referendum held on November 9 that was opposed by the central government, he added.

"The moment has come to use the only tool that we have left to be able to hold the consultation," Mas said during a speech lasting over an hour in Barcelona.

The Catalan leader did not set a date for the early elections in the northeastern region. Elections were not due in Catalonia before 2016.

If the joint list wins an absolute majority, it would have a mandate to launch a process that could result in the creation of a Catalan state, Mas said.

"The result has to be strong, clear, very understandable, so there can be no discussions after about what has been voted on," he said.

Spanish public prosecutors on Friday filed suits against Mas and two other senior members of the Catalan government for going ahead with the symbolic independence referendum despit it being ordered suspended by Spain's constitutional court.

The Catalan government says 2.3 million people took part in the ballot, which was organised by volunteers. That was more than a third of all eligible voters in the region.

Roughly 80 percent of those who took part in the symbolic vote said they wanted Catalonia to be an independent state. However the majority of anti-independence voters stayed at home.

Catalonia held the poll after plans to stage an official non-binding referendum were also suspended when the Spanish government challenged its legality.

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