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Catalan majority votes for independence despite police raids

Spanish National Police officers in plain clothes try to confiscate a ballot box from polling station in Barcelona early Sunday. Associated Press/Photo by Manu Brabo

Catalan majority votes for independence despite police raids

Catalonia’s leader said the autonomous Spanish region has earned the right to independence after Catalans overwhelmingly voted Sunday in favor of separation, despite violent police raids intended to stop the process. Preliminary results show 90 percent of the 2.26 million votes counted were in favor of independence. The counted ballots did not include those confiscated by Spanish National Police during raids that closed 319 of the 2,300 polling stations, according to Catalan authorities. Videos showed Spanish police using batons and rubber bullets against voters. About 844 people and 33 police officers sustained injuries during the raids. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday night thanked police for responding with “firmness and serenity,” adding the Spanish government did what it had to do. “The rule of law remains in force with all its strength,” he said. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont had said he would unilaterally declare the region’s independence if the ballot measure passed. The Catalan Parliament earlier passed a law that a simple majority in favor of independence would trigger a declaration of independence within 48 hours of the vote, regardless of voter turnout. Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended the law and declared the independence vote illegal. “We have sent a message to the world,” Puigdemont said in a televised address. “We have the right to decide our future, we have the right to be free, and we want to live in peace without violence.”

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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