Spain gives Catalan leader 5 days to clarify independence

Javier Stokes
October 12, 2017

Spain's main opposition party, the Socialist party, agreed with the ruling People's Party that the Catalan regional government has to clarify whether there was a declaration of independence or not, the Socialist's leader Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday.

Mr Rajoy issued the demand following a special Cabinet meeting to respond to an announcement from Mr Puigdemont, that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence but was suspending it for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Thus Catalonia finds itself in constitutional limbo, as the Spanish Government announces it has requested clarification on whether or not the Catalan Government has actually declared independence.

Mr Rajoy has vowed to use everything in his power to prevent independence and has refused to rule out imposing direct rule over the semi-autonomous region - an unprecedented move many fear could lead to unrest.

Article 155 of the Constitution allows the central government to take some or total control of any of its 17 regions if they do not comply with their legal obligations.

"This call - ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution - seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires", Mr Rajoy said.

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"There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through, to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible", he added.

At stake is the future of a region of 7.5 million people deeply divided over Independence, one of Spain's economic powerhouses, whose drive to break away has raised concern for stability in the European Union.

The central government in Madrid has given little indication it is willing to talk, saying it did not accept the declaration and did not consider the referendum or its results to be valid.

The Spain's Deputy Premier said: "Dialogue between democrats takes place within the law, respects the rules of the game and doesn't make them up as it goes along".

The poll was marred by violence after Spanish police acting on court orders attempted to stop the vote by raiding polling stations, seizing ballot boxes, beating voters and firing rubber bullets at crowds.

If Puigdemont was to confirm he did declare independence, he would be given an additional three days to rectify.

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