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Catalonia declares independence from Spain, suspends implementation

Thousands of euphoric Catalonians were disappointed Tuesday and may have to wait a few more weeks to have their new country after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont suspended the implementation of its independence for several weeks.

Mr Puigdemont and other regional leaders signed a declaration of independence from Spain Tuesday night following the disputed referendum but said its implementation will be delayed for weeks to allow talks with the government in Madrid.

The independence declaration document calls for Catalonia to be recognised as an “independent and sovereign state”.

The move was immediately dismissed by the Spanish central government in Madrid.

An October 1 referendum in the Catalonia resulted in almost 90% of voters backing the independence but was declared invalid by Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament in Barcelona that the region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote and that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.

“We are all part of the same community and we need to go forward together. The only way forward is democracy and peace,” he told deputies.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for Wednesday morning to address the latest moves in the crisis.

Catalonia, a part of the Spanish state for centuries but with its own distinct language and culture, enjoys broad autonomy under the Spanish constitution.

The region, one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, accounts for a quarter of the country’s exports.

The European Union has made clear that should Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the EU.

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