December 3, 2015 / 11:27 AM / 4 years ago

Catalonia to pursue split from Spain despite court block, Mas says

Catalan acting President Artur Mas addresses members of parliament during an election session for the new president in the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia’s government will continue its drive for independence, its acting head said on Thursday, a day after Spain’s Constitutional Court annulled a Catalan assembly resolution calling for a republic to be established within 18 months.

The court was ruling on an appeal by the Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has said Catalonian independence is “nonsense” and will never happen.

But Acting Catalan President Artur Mas, who ran the Catalan government during years of national economic crisis that saw the independence movement swell, said the government of the wealthy northeastern region would stick to its plan.

“Legally, it is clear that the Catalan parliament’s resolution is now annulled,” he said in an interview with Cadena Ser radio.

“But politically, it is not, because the will of the parliament cannot be annulled and the will of the parliament reflects the will and the ideas of a significant part of the Catalonian population.”

The Constitutional Court ruled that the resolution was unconstitutional and said the Catalan assembly could not establish itself as an independent legal and political power above the constitution.

Mas said he wanted to hold another referendum on secession; an informal vote held last year produced a result of 81 percent in favor, although the turnout was only around 40 percent.

Parties favoring a split from Spain won a majority of seats in the Catalan parliament in September, but fell just short of half the vote.

(Story refiles to correct dateline to Madrid, not London)

Reporting by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Kevin Liffey

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