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Spain gives Catalonian leader five days to clarify if he is declaring independence

Spain has sought clarification on the suspended declaration by the Catalan leader.

Image: Boivin Samuel/ABACA

Updated at 7.10pm

SPANISH PRIME MINISTER Mariano Rajoy has this evening given Catalonia’s separatist leader five days to clarify his position on whether or not he was declaring independence.

Speaking in parliament Rajoy said Carles Puigdemont has until Monday at 10am (9am Irish time) “to say if he declared independence” before suspending Catalan autonomy.

“It is very important that Mr Puigdemont clarifies for the rest of Spaniards if he declared independence yesterday or not,” he added.

If Puigdemont confirms his region had split from Spain, the central government would give him an additional five days, to 19 October at 10am, to reconsider before suspending Catalan autonomy, Rajoy added.

Earlier today, Rajoy raised the possibility of imposing direct rule on Catalonia after yesterday’s suspended declaration of independence by the region.

Rajoy spoke this morning after crisis meetings by the Spanish government in Madrid and also looked for clarity from Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

In a session of Barcelona’s parliament yesterday, Puigdemont announced that he had accepted “the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent republic” following a referendum earlier this month.

The referendum had been ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court.

Puigdemont and his allies signed an independence declaration outside the parliament chamber, but he then suspended it and again called for dialogue with Spain.

Madrid has repeatedly said independence is not up for discussion.

In today’s response, Rajoy sought clarification on the situation in Catalonia and referenced Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

This would suspend the autonomous government in Catalonia and impose direct rule in the region. It would be an unprecedented move that many fear could lead to unrest.

“The cabinet agreed this morning to formally ask the Catalan government to confirm whether it declared Catalan independence,” he said in a televised statement.


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

Crowds of thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Barcelona last night, waving Catalan flags and banners screaming “democracy” in the hope of witnessing a historic night in a region that remains deeply divided over independence.

But Spain’s political establishment rounded on Puigdemont following the declaration, and support among separatists in Catalonia was mixed.

Deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told reporters shortly after the signing that Puigdemont was “a person who doesn’t know where he is, where he’s going or with whom he wants to go”.

Barcelona resident Maria Rosa Bertran said she was against a delayed secession.

“I find it even worse because it is suffering a longer agony. Indecision and uncertainty is the worst thing that can happen to us,” she told AFP.

Unknown consequences

Political leaders in Catalonia, Spain and Europe have come out against secession, concerned over the country’s biggest upheaval since its transition to democracy in the 1970s.

Marc Cazes, a student in Barcelona, said: “I did not expect independence to be declared today because of all the processes that the government of Spain has begun, both with police actions and with threats.”

Catalonia pressed ahead with an independence referendum on October 1 that the central government said breached Spain’s constitution.

Around 90% of those who cast ballots voted for independence but the poll was poorly monitored and many Catalans opposed to secession boycotted what Madrid branded an illegal plebiscite.

 © – AFP 2017 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: Catalonia asserts right to statehood but suspends declaration of independence for ‘a few weeks’

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