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1 Aug, 2016 15:30

Spanish court suspends Catalonia’s independence roadmap

Spanish court suspends Catalonia’s independence roadmap

Spain's constitutional court has suspended Catalonia's pro-independence roadmap, which was passed by the region's parliament last week. It followed allegations from Madrid that Catalonia violated the Spanish constitution by allowing a vote on the plan.

Magistrates accepted an appeal by the Spanish government on Monday, which claimed that Catalonia's Committee to Study the Constitutive Process – the group responsible for designing the region's strategy towards independence – violated the Spanish constitution when it allowed parliament to vote on the roadmap on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The Catalan Chamber will now have 20 days to communicate the court's decision to its members and present any appeals.

The disputed roadmap – which outlines the steps that Catalonia needs to take to defend its right to self-determination – was passed in the 135-seat parliament with 72 votes in favor.

The text argues that the “only way possible” for Catalans to exercise their right to decide on their future is for the northeastern region to “disconnect” from Spain and disobey Spanish institutions, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, Madrid is investigating whether criminal charges can be brought against Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, believing she may have broken the law by trying to press ahead with independence plans.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Spain's acting deputy prime minister, said last week that she and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had spoken to the leaders of the country's major political parties so they could act “jointly” to defend the unity of Spain.

"We are facing today a repeated violation of constitutional legality," Saenz de Santamaria said.

"The government said it would act, it has acted and it will act," she added.

It's not the first time that the Spanish government has taken action against Catalonia's drive for independence. Madrid suspended an independence referendum by the Catalan government in 2014, along with a resolution passed by the Catalan parliament in November 2015, declaring the start of a succession process.

However, it appears the Catalan parliament's decision is aligned with the public's wishes. A July 22 survey from the region's pollster found that 47.7 percent of Catalans want independence from Madrid, while 42.4 percent said they wanted the region to remain part of Spain.

A total of 7.5 million people reside in the region of Catalonia, which accounts for almost one-fifth of Spain's economic output.