“I ask the parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens’ sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy and act in consequence,” said Puigdemont (seen below) in a televised speech on Saturday.
Puigdemont made the remarks after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the sacking of Catalonia’s separatist government and holding of fresh elections in the region.
“The Spanish Government, with the support of the Socialist Party and Citizens party, has undertaken the worst attack on the institutions and people of Catalonia since the decrees of the military dictator Francisco Franco abolishing the Generalitat of Catalonia,” said Puigdemont.
“The Catalan institutions and the people of Catalonia cannot accept this attack. The humiliation sought by the Spanish government as a guardian of all Catalan public life, from the Government to the public media, is incompatible with a democratic attitude and is situated outside the rule of law,” he noted.
He added that he had called on the parliament to meet in a plenary session to discuss Madrid’s move.
“Catalonia is an ancient European nation, … is core to the European values. We do what we do because we believe in a democratic and peaceful Europe. The Europe of the Charter of Fundamental Rights should protect each and every one of us. You should know what you are fighting for in your home, we are fighting for Catalonia. And we will continue to do so,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the parliament in Catalonia has harshly criticized the Spanish government’s move, saying it would do its utmost to defend the sovereignty of the independence-seeking territory.
The developments come as about half a million people took to the streets of Barcelona to support the results of the referendum.
Municipal police said around 450,000 people welcomed a call by Puigdemont and other secessionist leaders and rallied on Barcelona’s large Paseo de Gracia boulevard and nearby streets.
Catalonia held a banned referendum on secession on October 1. The Catalan leader claimed that 90 percent of the voters in the referendum had backed secession, but the turnout had been put at only 43 percent.
Last Tuesday, Puigdemont signed a symbolic declaration of independence but suspended it shortly afterwards and called for talks with the central government on the fate of the region.
Catalonia had held a symbolic referendum back in November 2014, during which more than 80 percent of participants voted for independence, according to Catalan officials.
The region has a population of 7.5 million people, who speak their own language and have their own cultural traditions, and a political movement for splitting from Spain that has strengthened in recent years.
Catalonia, Spain’s wealthiest region, accounts for a fifth of the country’s economy.