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Spain's PM Rajoy vows to block Catalonia's statehood referendum

  |   Dec. 13, 2013 at 8:48 AM
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MADRID, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Catalan party leaders reached agreement on referendum questions on whether the autonomous Spanish territory should be a state, officials said.

Artur Mas, head of the center-right nationalist Catalan government, along with leaders of three other political parties said they agreed on two questions concerning Catalonia's statehood that will be posed to voters, Madrid newspaper El Pais reported Thursday.

The officials said voters will be asked, "Do you want Catalonia to be a state?" If the response is yes, voters then will be asked, "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?"

Mas, while expressing disappointment that the Catalan branch of the Socialist Party didn't participate, thanked other leaders for their "generosity and sense of state."

The leaders also said they want the vote to be Nov. 9, 2014.

"This is historically very far-reaching," he said. "We are thus holding to our commitment for the consultation to be held in 2014. The Nov. 9 date allows us to ask the question with success. There will be time to guarantee the legal framework and democratic procedures."

However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block Catalonia from conducting the referendum, El Pais said.

"I will guarantee you that the status vote is not going to be held," Rajoy said during a joint news conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in Madrid.

Rajoy did not go into specifics on how he would prevent the referendum.

Mas appealed to the Rajoy government to negotiate on the referendum, El Pais said.

"We're waiting now for the Spanish state to respond to this solid majority and a public that wants to vote," Mas said.

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