Catalonia will declare independence ''in a matter of days'', the region's secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont was quoted as telling the BBC, a move that would defy Madrid and attempt to implement the directive of Sunday's banned independence referendum. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
Catalonia is expected to declare independence from Spain in a matter of days. In his first interview since Sunday's (October 1) referendum Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the autonomous region, was quoted as telling the BBC his government would "act at the end of this week or the beginning of next." The move won't be recognized by Madrid which has labeled the referendum illegal. The vote and its aftermath have plunged Spain into its worst constitutional crisis in decades. In a televised speech, the country's King made a rare intervention into politics, accusing Catalan leaders of dividing society (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) SPAIN'S KING FELIPE, SAYING: "The Catalan society is fractured and confronted. Those authorities have undermined the feelings of affection and solidarity that have united and will unite all of the Spaniards. Their irresponsible behavior could even put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia, and the whole of Spain." The comments reflect just how deeply Spain has been shaken by the vote and came after thousands took to the streets throughout Catalonia on Tuesday (October 3) protesting against the violent crackdown by Spanish police during the outlawed referendum. The strike shut down many of Barcelona's transport links, after picketers blocked dozens of main roads. Even the city's famous football team joined the action - locking visitors out of its Nou Camp stadium. Some 900 people were injured on polling day when police fired rubber bullets and charged crowds with truncheons to disrupt the vote. Those who participated in the ballot overwhelmingly supported independence - an expected result as residents who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the referendum. Regardless of the turnout, Puigdemont has said the result is valid and must be implemented.