World

Spain wants clarity over Catalonia's independence

Spain wants clarity over Catalonia's independence

Rajoy had earlier stressed that Puigdemont's response would be crucial in deciding "events over the coming days" and he said he "just needs to say he didn't declare independence".

In televised remarks, Rajoy formally demanded that Catalan's leader, Carles Puigdemont, clarify whether he has declared independence, saying that is needed before the Spanish government can decide what steps to take.

If Mr Puigdemont confirms his region had split from Spain, Madrid would give him five more days, to October 19 at 10 am, to reconsider before suspending Catalan autonomy, Mr Rajoy added.

Rajoy announced the measure earlier yesterday in a veiled threat to trigger a constitutional article that could end with the suspension of Catalonia's autonomous powers.

It was the leader's first speech since the controversial October 1 referendum. Rajoy gave no indication that Madrid was prepared to negotiate anything with the secessionists in the Catalan capital. We are normal people who are asking to vote, ' he said.

Rajoy faces pressure from his own Partido Popular (People's Party) to maintain a hardline with the separatists.

Puigdemont said the referendum had given him a mandate for independence but immediately asked regional lawmakers to suspend the declaration to allow for negotiations with the central government. It has never been invoked before and is seen as a "nuclear option", or extreme response.




Will suspend Catalonia's autonomy by running article.

The Catalan crisis has deeply divided the region itself as well as the Spanish nation. Opponents of independence have largely boycotted referendum. His speech, however, was ambiguous. As Spanish police started seizing ballot boxes, Catalan officials allowed voters to cast ballots wherever they liked.

Arran, the anti-capitalist direct action group that carried out arson attacks on tourist sites in August, accused Puigdemont of "inadmissible treason".

Here is the status of the standoff between the affluent, industrial region of Catalonia and the central Spanish government in Madrid.

European Commission President Donald Tusk called on Puigdemont not to divide Spain, but also urged restraint on Madrid. "Because the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force". The leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Pedro Sanchez, backed Rajoy's demand for clarification in order to "get out of the swamp".

Catalan lawyers, civil society groups and politicians in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain have offered to mediate between the two sides, but the prime minister rejected the offers while thanking those who made them.


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