July 31, 2017 / 6:27 PM / 2 months ago

Spanish court halts bid to fast-track Catalan referendum preparations

FILE PHOTO: Women take pictures as people assemble a giant Estelada flag, a Catalan separatist flag, during a pro-independence rally in Sant Cugat del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Constitutional Court on Monday accepted a legal challenge against the Catalonian parliament’s bid to speed up preparations for a independence referendum which is opposed by the central government.

Catalonia’s assembly, controlled by pro-independence parties, passed measures last week to give itself powers to fast-track some laws and preparations for the vote planned for Oct. 1.

The Constitutional Court on Monday accepted the government’s challenge to that, meaning the regional assembly’s overhaul is suspended until the court reaches a final decision. That usually takes several months.

Politicians in Catalonia have vowed to move ahead with a referendum, though it is unclear how it will take place if the Constitutional Court keeps striking down attempts to organize it.

On Saturday, Catalonian authorities said they had filed a complaint in court after high-ranking members of the local government were questioned by Spanish police over preparations for the referendum.

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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