Spanish PM rules out mediation talks with Catalan leaders over independence vote

The Spanish Prime Minister has rejected calls for mediation talks over Catalonia's attempt to break away as an separate country after a contested regional referendum over the issue.

Mariano Rajoy said "there is no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulnes" in comments to Parliament.

In a veiled threat, he demanded that Catalan authorities clarify whether or not they have declared independence by Monday so that the Spanish government can decide what to do next.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont announced the region was an independent state on Tuesday following a referendum vote - but immediately suspended the declaration for a "few weeks".

The central government in Madrid - which had tried to block the referendum from taking place - said it did not accept the declaration and deemed the vote and its results to be invalid.

Mr Rajoy urged the Catalan leader to back down, saying that Mr Puigdemont "just needs to say he didn't declare independence".

He accused the region's parliament of breaking the law and inciting street protests in their efforts to "impose independence that few want and is good for nobody".

The Prime Minister said "nobody should be proud" of Catalonia's decision to carry out the vote in defiance of central Government orders.

In tough comments on the crisis, he also rejected calls for mediation with the regional leaders, saying the country's laws should be respected.

Spanish police tried to close down polling stations and prevent the referendum. Credit: AP

Some 2.3 million Catalans - 43% of the region - turned out to vote in the independence referendum, which the Spanish government said was illegal.

Regional authorities declared the vote valid and said 90% who voted were in favour of independence.

But the ballot was marred by violence with around 900 voters and 33 police officers injured as they clashed.

In one instance a woman was seen being dragged away from a polling booth by her hair.

Thousands have publicly declared their views on Spain's streets. Credit: AP

Mr Puigdemont condemned the central government's "aggressive" behaviour in trying to stop the vote.

In the days since the outlawed vote, thousands have taken to the streets of Barcelona, as well as Madrid and other towns and cities, to express their views whether for or against independence.

Madrid had previously said it would seek to imprison the President if he sought independence and said it will block any moves towards secession.

Spain's deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the Catalan leader "doesn't know where he is, where he is going and with whom he wants to go".

She said Mr Puigdemont had put Catalonia "in the greatest level of uncertainty seen yet".