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Catalonian leader defies Spain with referendum calls

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Catalonia's President Artur Mas gestures to pro-independence supporters upon leaving the Palau de la Generalitat after signing a decree calling for an independence referendum, in Barcelona. Mas signed the decree on Saturday calling an independence referendum on Nov. 9, putting him on a collision course with the central government which says such a vote is illegal. Photo credit: REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Catalonia's President Artur Mas gestures to pro-independence supporters upon leaving the Palau de la Generalitat after signing a decree calling for an independence referendum, in Barcelona. Mas signed the decree on Saturday calling an independence referendum on Nov. 9, putting him on a collision course with the central government which says such a vote is illegal. Photo credit: REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

REUTERS

Catalonia's President Artur Mas gestures to pro-independence supporters upon leaving the Palau de la Generalitat after signing a decree calling for an independence referendum, in Barcelona. Mas signed the decree on Saturday calling an independence referendum on Nov. 9, putting him on a collision course with the central government which says such a vote is illegal. Photo credit: REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

THE president of Spain's Catalonia region has signed a decree calling for a referendum on independence to be held on November 9, putting the local government on a collision course with Madrid, which says such a vote is illegal.

The wealthy northeastern region, which accounts for around a fifth of Spain's economy, has its own language and distinct culture and has long fought for self-rule. The region's president, Artur Mas, signed the decree yesterday in Barcelona, surrounded by his government and political allies. "Catalonia wants to speak. Wants to be heard. Wants to vote. Now is the right time and we have the right legal framework to do so," Mr Mas said in a speech in Catalan, Spanish and English.

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Sunday Independent