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Catalonia to go ahead with secession

In direct violation of a ruling by Spain's highest court, the Catalan parliament will continue independence proceedings, it has announced. The province seeks to form an independent republic as fast as possible.

The government of Catalonia promised on Wednesday to move forward with its secession process in spite of a move by the Constitutional Court in Madrid to suspend the independence plan passed by Catalan parliament.

"The political will of the government of Catalonia is to go ahead with the content of the resolution approved Monday by the Catalan parliament," Catalan Vice President Neus Munte told the press.

Shortly before Munte's statement, Spain's highest court unanimously agreed to hear

an action filed by Madrid

against its wealthy northeastern region. Acceptance of the suit meant that until the judges consider legal arguments from both sides, the Catalan secession process remains on hold.

The court's decision came with a warning to leaders in Catalonia that if they fail to take the judge's move into account, they could be suspended from their positions and face criminal charges.

Resolution calls for swift independence from Madrid

Catalonia's parliament

passed a resolution on Monday calling for an independent Catalan republic

within the next 18 months. The plan included the speedy formation of state institutions such as a tax office, social security system and a treasury, so that the separation from Madrid could be implemented as fast as possible.

The resolution declares the sovereignty of the Catalan government, which makes it no longer subject to the rulings of Spanish institutions - including the constitutional court.

The move prompted immediate outrage in Madrid, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declaring: "I will not allow it, and I have the backing of the majority of Spaniards."

Rajoy accused pro-independence politicians in Catalonia, who won the majority of seats in regional elections at the end of September, of trying to "put an end to democracy and the state of law, subjugate the rights and freedoms of all citizens and break up the unity of Spain."

Catalonia, a region of some 7.5 million people, accounts for around 20 percent of Spain's economic output. It already enjoys a good amount of autonomy in matters of education, health care, and policing, but has gradually been insisting on even more freedom.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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