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Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Friday asked to address the regional parliament next week amid growing challenges for his government to deliver on its pledge to declare independence for the prosperous northeastern region in Spain.

A disputed independence referendum in Catalonia last Sunday has led to Spain's biggest political crisis in decades, with the government condemning the vote as illegal, unconstitutional and invalid.

Puigdemont's separatist ruling coalition for the region suffered a setback Thursday when Spain's Constitutional Court suspended a Monday session of regional lawmakers assessing the vote's results. Some lawmakers had said that Puigdemont would declare Catalonia independent then.

Puigdemont says the vote is valid despite a Constitutional Court ban on holding it and the fact that only 40 percent of the region's 5.5 million eligible voters turned out amid strong police pressure to shut down the vote. Catalan officials say 90 percent of those who did vote favored independence.

Spain's conservative government, which is under political and social pressure after police violently tried to halt the banned vote, has rejected any dialogue with Catalan officials unless they drop plans for secession.

Puigdemont has asked now to address the regional parliament on Tuesday to "report on the current political situation." The speakers' board of Catalonia's regional parliament was to meet Friday afternoon, likely to discuss the request.


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