Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont gestures during a session at the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, Spain, on September 28, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont has said he would call an independence referendum in 2017 despite objections from Spain.
"We will work on the will to hold a referendum in agreement with the state at all times," Puigdemont said at the Catalan parliament in Barcelona on Wednesday ahead of a confidence vote session the next day.
"But if we reach the end of our term in office and there has been no positive response, we will be ready to... call a referendum for the second half of September of next year," he added.
Separatist parties in the region agreed on a plan to secede from Spain next year after winning a clear majority in the 2015 regional elections, but internal rift has hindered progress.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont (R) poses next to the Catalan regional vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, during a debate on the government's question of confidence at the regional parliament in Barcelona on September 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
He appears to be trying to gain the support of the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, which refused to back the government budget for 2016 and caused the June breakdown of Puigdemont’s pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia.
The tiny anti-capitalist CUP, a party known for its hard line on independence, promised to vote for Puigdemont in return for an independence referendum in 2017.
"At the end of June next year, parliament will approve the necessary laws for Catalonia to be able to function as an independent state," he said, adding that the process would be followed by calling citizens to the ballot box for the vote.
The resource-rich region has a population of over 7.5 million people and its own separate language.
Catalonia’s independence bid has been met with the Spanish government’s resistance.