Spain demands clarity on Catalonia's bid for independence

The Spanish prime minister has called on Catalonia’s leader to clarify whether his region has declared independence, suggesting if that’s the case, the central government could limit or rescind the province’s autonomy. 

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said regional president Carles Puigdemont’s response would be crucial in deciding “events over the coming days.” 

He also referred to Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows the central government to take some or total control of any of its 17 regions if they don’t comply with their legal obligations.

It was the first time Rajoy has openly said Article 155 would be the next step by Madrid if the breakaway efforts in Barcelona aren’t rolled back. 

Rajoy said the government “wants to offer certainty to citizens” and that it is “necessary to return tranquility and calm.”

Puigdemont said yesterday he was proceeding with a declaration of independence but was suspending it for several weeks to facilitate negotiations. 

Puigdemont’s remarks were earlier dismissed as a “trick to say one thing and do the opposite” by Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis. 

But Dastis, in an interview with French radio station Europe 1, also said there was room for negotiations within the frame of Spain’s constitution.

No change in plans

Catalonia’s government spokesperson said earlier that if the Spanish government decides to intervene over the region’s autonomous powers, it will be seen that there is no willingness to talk and Catalonia will be obliged to press ahead with its commitment to independence.

Jordi Turull told Catalunya Radio that Wednesday’s events would show if the possibility of dialogue exists for the Spanish government, and “the international community will see.”

He said the Catalan government has not changed its plans but wants to talk.

APTOPIX Spain Catalonia

A woman carries an independence Catalan flag as demonstrators march downtown Barcelona on Tuesday. (Santi Palacios/Associated Press)

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