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Barcelona mayor says Catalan independence drive a ‘disaster’

Barcelona’s mayor on Saturday accused the ousted government of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont of overseeing a “disaster” in their push to break away from Spain.

Just hours before she was due to attend a rally in the Catalan capital organised by pro-independence groups, Ada Colau fired a broadside against Puigdemont’s “irresponsible” drive, which has plunged Spain into political crisis.

“They’ve provoked tensions and carried out a unilateral independence declaration which the majority do not want,” Colau told a meeting of her party members.

“They’ve tricked the population for their own interests.”

Catalan lawmakers voted on October 27 to declare independence after a banned referendum returned an overwhelming “yes” on splitting from Spain.

But the region itself is deeply divided on the issue, and opponents of independence say the October 1 referendum, which Spain’s Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional, had been boycotted by those against secession.

Colau herself is anti-independence but has gone on record as saying she supports a free and official referendum on the issue.

Pro-independence groups have called for mass protests in Barcelona on Saturday against the jailing of several former Catalan officials, who were sacked by the central government after declaring independence.