Catalonia to declare independence within days after Spanish king’s TV address

LONDON — Catalonia will declare independence from Spain within days, the region’s leader said late Tuesday after the Spanish king made a televised speech accusing secessionists of fracturing society.

Carles Puigdemont pledged to defy Madrid and implement the results of Sunday's banned independence referendum which went ahead despite a violent crackdown by Spanish police that left 900 people injured.

"We are to declare independence 48 hours after all the official results are counted," he said in an interview with the BBC. "This will probably finish once we get all the votes in from abroad at the end of the week and therefore we shall probably act over the weekend or early next week."

Catalan officials say that 90 percent of the 2.3 million people who voted Sunday were in favor of independence. But fewer than half of those eligible to vote turned out.

Spain has been rocked by the poll and the Spanish police response to it, which saw batons and rubber bullets used to prevent people voting. The bloody scenes brought international condemnation.

RELATED: Protesters, police clash over referendum vote in Spain 

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Protesters, police clash over referendum vote in Spain
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Protesters, police clash over referendum vote in Spain
L�HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, CATALONIA, SPAIN - 2017/10/01: A man is seen raising his arms front of a spanish policeman. National Police entered by force in the High School of L�Hospitalet City where they have requisitioned material use for the pro referendum vote such as ballot boxes and ballot papers. (Photo by Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
L�HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, CATALONIA, SPAIN - 2017/10/01: A woman is seen speaking to the Spanish Police. National Police entered by force in the High School of L�Hospitalet City where they have requisitioned material use for the pro referendum vote such as ballot boxes and ballot papers. (Photo by Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
L�HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, CATALONIA, SPAIN - 2017/10/01: National Police entered by force in the High School of L�Hospitalet City where they have requisitioned material use for the pro referendum vote such as ballot boxes and ballot papers. (Photo by Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
L�HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, CATALONIA, SPAIN - 2017/10/01: A policeman is seen taking away a woman during the protest against spanish policemen. National Police entered by force in the High School of L�Hospitalet City where they have requisitioned material use for the pro referendum vote such as ballot boxes and ballot papers. (Photo by Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Scuffles break out as Spanish Civil Guard officers force their way through a crowd and into a polling station for the banned independence referendum where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was supposed to vote in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People hold up ballot sheets outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man wearing a shirt with an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and holding carnations faces off with a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A woman shows a ballot to a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A youngster is carried on shoulders as scuffles with Spanish Civil Guard officers broke out outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Spanish Civil Guard officers disperse people from the entrance of a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Firemen and people face off Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina
A man falls to the ground during scuffles with Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
People confront Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A youngster is carried on shoulders as scuffles with Spanish Civil Guard officers broke out outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A woman reacts as she leaves a polling station after casting her vote for the banned separatist referendum in Barcelona, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso
A man reacts as he leaves a polling station after casting his vote for the banned separatist referendum in Barcelona, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso
Spanish Civil Guard officers break through a door at a polling station for the banned independence referendum where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was supposed to vote in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina
People scuffle with Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A woman gives a carnation to a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina
A man faces off with a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A woman screams towards Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Spanish Civil Guard officers remove demonstrators outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spanish Civil Guard officers disperse people outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman is grabbed by riot police near a a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo
A woman yells at riot police near a a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo
Spanish Civil Guard officer pushes a man outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Riot police remove demonstrators outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera
Rioot police remove demonstrators outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera
Demonstartors face riot police outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera
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Catalans took part in a general strike and protest Tuesday, shutting down road traffic, public transport and businesses and ratcheting up fears of unrest.

RelatedWhat's Behind the Catalonia Vote That's Dividing Spain?

In response, King Felipe VI accused Catalan leaders of shattering democratic principles and dividing society.

"Today, Catalan society is fractured," the 49-year-old monarch said in a rare political intervention, referring to the developments as "very serious moments for our democratic life."

He called for unity but said Catalan leaders had shown “an unacceptable disloyalty towards the powers of the state.”

Catalonia, Spain's richest region, has its own language and culture and a political movement for secession that has strengthened in recent years.

Spain's Caixabank, Catalonia's largest lender, and ministers reassured bank customers that their deposits are secure from the growing crisis.

"Catalan banks are Spanish banks and European banks are solid and their clients have nothing to fear," Luis de Guindos, Spain's Economy Minister said Wednesday.

Spain's Banco Sabadell, the country's fifth-largest bank with a large business in Catalonia, also attempted to calm jitters. Both banks have seen their share price fall in recent days amid the turmoil.

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