Catalonia’s leader has launched a strongly worded attack on the King of Spain for failing to heal the country’s divisions after a bitterly contested independence referendum.
In a TV address from the headquarters of the Catalan government in Barcelona, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said King Felipe had missed an opportunity to mediate in the political and constitutional crisis that has engulfed the country.
On Tuesday, the King delivered a stern warning in a TV address, saying Catalan leaders had acted “outside the law” and accusing them of “unacceptable disloyalty” for pressing ahead with their moves towards secession.
Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain, located in the northeastern part of the country.
“You disappointed many people in Catalonia who appreciate you and are expecting a call to dialogue,” Puigdemont said, after an unexpectedly hard-line TV address by the King on Tuesday night.
The Spanish monarch “ignores millions of Catalans who think in a different way” to the central government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, he said.
The King has a constitutional duty to arbitrate when there is a diplomatic dispute, Puigdemont said.
“We need mediation,” he said. “This conflict needs to be resolved in a political way, not with police.”
He directed parts of his address to Spaniards in other parts of the nation, to the King and to Catalonians.
Puigdemont is expected to formally declare independence on Monday, after 90% of voters in last Sunday’s referendum opted for a split. The vote was marred by clashes between citizens and Spanish police.
Puigdemont urged calm.
“Let’s not allow other people to provoke us. Let’s not fall into provocations of violence,” he said.
Puigdemont said that while others say the vote was illegal, Catalonia will follow “a democratic way” that should be respected.
The Spanish government on Wednesday said it “strongly rejects the accusations” Puigdemont directed at the King.
“These accusations show that Mr. Puigdemont not only is against the law, but also is outside reality,” the government said.
“Tonight he lost every opportunity to bring Catalonia back to the path of coexistence within the law. Far from that, he went one step further in his path to radicalization, isolation and defiance of institutions.”
Puigdemont’s remarks came as the Catalans’ standoff with Madrid deepened Wednesday. Spain’s highest court summoned the chief of the Catalan police to answer accusations of sedition, or provoking a rebellion against the state.
Josep Lluís Trapero was called to testify in Madrid on Friday: Spanish authorities believe Trapero’s 17,000-strong force did not do enough to prevent the banned referendum from taking place. Sedition by public officials carries a 15-year sentence in Spain.
He was ordered to appear with three others: his deputy Teresa Laplana and the leaders of pro-independence groups Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez.