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Catalan leader accuses King Felipe of following Madrid's 'catastrophic' policies

The leader of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont has accused King Felipe VI of following Spain's central government's "catastrophic" policies towards the region.

The Catalan president called the central government "irresponsible" for not accepting mediation in the political crisis.

Mr Puigdemont's government is considering when it will declare independence from Spain in the wake of a disputed referendum which triggered the country's worst national crisis in decades.

He has said an independence declaration will come within a few days, but Spain, which declared Sunday's referendum illegal and invalid, is bitterly opposed to any such move.

In a televised speech late on Wednesday, Mr Puigdemont condemned violence by police who tried to halt Sunday's referendum.

"We held the referendum amid an unprecedented repression and in the following days we will show our best face to apply the results of the referendum," he said.

The separatist leader told the king: "You have disappointed many Catalans."

In a nationally televised address on Tuesday, King Felipe came out strongly against the Catalan authorities, criticising their "irresponsible conduct".

He said the Spanish state needed to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in Catalonia, the richest region of Spain.

Mr Puigdemont will address the regional parliament on Monday to review the disputed vote - a session that his parliamentary supporters in the radical CUP group say they will consider the independence declaration.

Politicians in other parts of Spain and a handful of civil groups have offered to try to bridge the divide between the two sides, but Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says no dialogue can take place outside of the country's constitution, which does not include provisions for a region to secede.

"Mr Puigdemont has been outside of the law for way too long," Mr Rajoy's deputy, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said, responding to the Catalan president's remarks in his televised address.

European leaders have sided with Spain and, amid fears that Catalonia's secession bid could find echoes elsewhere on the continent, the EU has so far refused to step in.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans stressed on Wednesday the need for Spain and Catalonia to talk with each other, but said there is a "general consensus that regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law when organising the referendum".

Led by losses for the two main Catalan banks, Spain's main stock market index lost almost 3 percentage points in Wednesday's trading amid uncertainty over how the secession bid will proceed.

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From Belfast Telegraph