Spain reacts to Catalonia after leader REFUSES to confirm independence sparking crisis.
The refuses to confirm independence might lead to Article 155 to be invoked solely for the purpose of calling regional elections
CATALONIA’S president Carles Puigdemont has refused to say whether he has declared independence or not as Spain has accused the region of “prolonging uncertainty” and has given them until Thursday to give a clear answer.
Spain’s deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria made it clear in a press conference this morning that the Catalan leader must answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the independence question.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy had given Puigdemont a deadline of 10am today to answer on the question of whether Catalonia had split from Spain.
But instead of a one-word answer, the Catalan leader sent Rajoy a two-page letter fudging the issue for a second time and urging him to reverse the central government’s “repression” of the Catalan people and its leaders and organise a meeting to try to find a solution through peaceful dialogue.
He said in the letter: “Our proposal for dialogue is sincere, despite everything that has happened, but logically it’s incompatible with the current climate of growing repression and threats.”
Highlighting as one of the examples of repression the new court appearance in Madrid later today of Josep Luis Trapero, the head of Catalan’s regional Mossos d’Esquadra police who is being investigated on suspicion of sedition, he added: “Let’s not allow this situation to deteriorate anymore.
The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont made a symbolic declaration of independence last Tuesday before suspending it and calling for negotiations with Madrid on the region’s future first.
Justice Minister Rafael Catala said on Monday the answer that Puigdemont had given in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was not valid.
The question was clear but the answer is not,” Catala told journalists.
Spain’s deputy Ms Saenz de Santamaria said: “The government regrets the fact that the President of the Generalitat has decided not to reply to the request formulated by the government last Wednesday.
It wasn’t very difficult to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question of whether he had declared independence.
I don’t think it was a very complicated answer. All we were and are asking him for is clarity on a very important issue.
Prolonging the situation of uncertainty and deliberate confusion only favours those who want to liquidate civic harmony and impose a radical and impoverishing project in Catalonia
Mr Rajoy said: “With the right will, recognising the problem and dealing with it head on, I’m sure we can find the path to a solution.”
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Puigdemont’s failure to give Rajoy a clear answer is expected to lead to the suspension of part or all of Calalonia’s autonomy through the Parliament-backed invocation of Article 155.
It will allow the government in Madrid to intervene directly in the running of the region, which has been immersed in two weeks of uncertainty following the organisation of an illegal independence referendum on October 1 marred by police violence against voters.
More than two million people – 92 per cent of those that took part – said ‘yes’ to independence, although there were many irregularities including double and triple voting in some areas.
After Thursday, Madrid is expected to impose direct rule by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.
Ms Saenz de Sanatamaria said: ”Nobody is rejecting dialogue but it must take place within the law with the maximum clarity”.
Spain’s deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria
The Spanish government is expected to go ahead with plans to invoke Article 155 after 10am on Thursday, the second deadline Rajoy gave Puigdemont when he reacted to the Catalan leader’s independence fudge last week, unless he backtracks over the next three days.
Opposition Catalan leaders who are fighting Puigdemont’s breakaway attempt are divided on how far Madrid should go in imposing direct rule.
Some want Article 155 to be invoked solely for the purpose of calling regional elections to give those living in Catalonia a chance to express themselves in a legal ballot, while others say it should be extended to include the removal of autonomy in the areas of police and education.
There was no immediate response from the Spanish government this morning.