By Mark Rivett-Carnac @mrivettcarnac
Catalan leaders say they will continue to seek independence within 18 months, defying an attempt by the Spanish Constitutional Court to block the secession process on Wednesday.
The Madrid-based court ruled that an appeal by the central government, which seeks to prevent the breakaway of the autonomous northeastern region, must be heard. According to Reuters, it also warned that failure to bring a halt to secession would be seen as “disobedience.”
But pro-independence leaders elected to Catalonia’s regional parliament in September have vowed to ignore the ruling. The regional parliament, where pro-independence parties have a majority, passed a resolution on Monday to start the process of seceding from Spain, including measures such as suspending the writ of the Constitutional Court in the region, and setting up its own tax and social security system.
“The will of the Catalan people cannot be suspended,” Oriol Junqueras, one of Catalonia’s independence leaders, said on Twitter. “We are committed to continue with our democratic mandate.”
The standoff intensifies just weeks before December’s general election.