Spain apologises to injured Catalans

MADRID: A Spanish government official on Friday offered the first apology to Catalans injured by police during their outlawed independence vote as the sides showed tentative signs of seeking an exit from the crisis. In Spain’s deepest political crisis in decades, Catalan leaders had threatened to declare independence unilaterally and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to stop them, rejecting calls for mediation.
The worsening standoff raised fears of further unrest in the northeastern region, a tourist-friendly land of 7.5 million people that accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy.
But Friday saw the first signs the sides may be willing to step back from the brink in a political conflict that threatens to destabilise Europe.
After days of ill-tempered rhetoric, the central government said it regretted last Sunday’s injuries and suggested Catalonia should hold a regional election to settle the crisis.
Catalan government minister Santi Vila, a close ally of regional president Carles Puigdemont, meanwhile told broadcaster Rac1 that his side could consider a “ceasefire” in the dispute, to avoid a further crackdown by Madrid.
Puigdemont postponed an appearance in the regional parliament at which some leaders were hoping for a declaration of independence, a spokesman said.
Spain’s central government apologised on behalf of police to people hurt in last Sunday’s referendum disturbances. — AFP

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