By: Joy Odor/ Kaduna
Catalonia declared independence from Spain less than an hour before a vote in the country’s Senate gave Madrid the power to seize the region’s autonomous powers.
The vote in the regional parliament followed a tense week of last-ditch negotiations between Madrid and Barecelona.
Seventy of 135 Catalan Deputies voted for independence, with 10 opposed and two blank ballot slips.
Opposition lawmakers had walked out of the chamber ahead of Friday’s vote in protest.
Rounds of applause broke out in the chamber as members of the parliament hugged and shook hands.
Thousands of people watched the voting process and the counting live on big screens outside Catalonia’s parliament in Barcelona, and cheered and danced after the motion was passed.
The motion calls for beginning an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia’s new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities to establish co-operation.
On Thursday, CatalanPpresident Carles Puigdemont had ruled out calling a snap election, thought to have been a potential way of defusing tension with the central government.
Mr Puigdemont said he had not received sufficient guarantees that Madrid would hold off on its attempts to take control of the region.
Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, tweeted immediately after the vote calling for calm.
He said the rule of law would be restored in Catalonia.