The president of Catalonia has signed a document to declare independence from Spain, but the result of a controversial referendum has been put on hold in the hope of finding a solution through negotiation with Madrid.
On Tuesday evening, Carles Puigdemont said he has a mandate to declare independence but proposes waiting “a few weeks” to encourage dialogue.
He said: “I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic...I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution.”
He however stopped short of seeking the explicit support of the chamber for the declaration of independence in a vote, Reuters reported.
Puigdemont called for a reduction in tensions in its standoff with Madrid, saying: “With our differences and discrepancies, we make up one people.”
The announcement will come as a disappointment to those desperate to see the state break away from Spain.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest following a violent police crackdown - that resulted in 900 people being injured - against the banned independence referendum held earlier this month.
Catalan officials claim that the vote of 1 October resulted in almost 90% voting in favour of independence. The vote was declared illegal by Madrid.
Catalan police are currently posted outside the parliament in Barcelona and members of the public are not allowed into the buildings’ grounds, the BBC reports.