Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont calls for 'democratic opposition' to direct rule

Carles Puigdemont arrives at the Catalan Parliament. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
  • The Spanish region of Catalonia declared independence on Friday.
  • The government in Madrid don’t accept the decision and have dissolved the regional government.
  • Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont calls for “democratic opposition” to direct rule in TV address on Saturday.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has urged “democratic opposition” to the Spanish government’s efforts to suppress the region’s independence.

Puigdemont delivered a televised address from an unspecified location on Saturday, following Friday’s move for Catalonia to declare independence. The Catalan regional parliament voted for independence on Friday, after a contested referendum at the start of the month.

The national government in Madrid says the decision is invalid and President Mariano Rajoy fired the entire Catalan government, including President Carles Puigdemont, shortly after the vote. He has since invoked Article 155, a constitutional provision that instates direct rule, and has put his Deputy in charge of the region.

Puigdemont said in Saturday’s TV address that Rajoy’s actions were “contrary to the expressed will of the citizens of our country,” adding that “in a democracy, it is parliaments that choose, or remove, presidents.” The BBC reported earlier on Saturday that he had arranged for his wife and children to leave Spain ahead of Friday’s declaration for fear that they could be arrested.

Puigdemont said he will continue to “work to build a free country.” Catalan is a region in northeastern Spain, home to 2.75 million people. The region’s capital is Barcelona.

Here is Puigdemont’s full address (there are no English subtitles):

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