Catalonia declares independence, but...

Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont says he has a mandate to declare independence for the northeastern region of Spain, but proposes waiting "a few weeks'' in order to facilitate a dialogue.

Puigdemont tells the Catalan parliament that a landslide victory in the region's disputed Oct. 1 referendum on independence gives his government grounds to implement its long-held desire to break century-old ties with Spain. But he is suggesting holding off.

Puigdemont's speech was highly critical of the Spanish government's response to the referendum, but he said Catalans have nothing against Spain or Spaniards, and that they want to understand each other better.

At the end of his speech, Puigdemont was applauded by standing separatist lawmakers.

'A coup': opposition

Meanwhile, the opposition leader in Catalonia's parliament says Puigdemont's statement that he has a mandate to declare independence from Spain "is a coup'' and has no support in Europe.

Opposition leader Ines Arrimadas of the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party says the majority of Catalans feels they are Catalans, Spanish and European and that they won't let regional officials "break their hearts.''

Puidgemont's declaration that he has a mandate to declare independence from Spain but asking lawmakers to suspend it for a few weeks has received mixed reactions from thousands of separatist supporters outside the parliament building where he spoke.

His statement about having a mandate was greeted with applause and chants in favour of independence. When he mentioned waiting in order to foster dialogue, some stopped, while others said "yes, yes, it's the way to do it'' and kept applauding.

Madrid's reaction

A Spanish official says the government of Spain doesn't accept what he called an "implicit'' declaration of independence by the Catalonia region's president.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Spanish government policy.