Spain issues ultimatum to Catalan, gives three more days for clarity on independence

Catalonia leader has called for a meeting and negotiation for next two months, letter states

In the latest war of words between Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the leader of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, Rajoy has today asked Puigdemont to declare his position on independence within the next three days, failing which he could lose control of the north-eastern region.

Media reports suggest that Rajoy is ready to invoke Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, allowing him to retake full control of Catalonia through “nuclear option.”

Madrid was supposed to submit an official response from Catalonia by 9am today on whether it had declared independence or not. The letter arrived from Puigdemont today but failed to offer any confirmation and has instead called for negotiation over the next two months.

“For the next two months, our main objective is to bring you to dialogue,” Puigdemont said, asking for a meeting as soon as possible. “Let’s not let the situation deteriorate further. With good will, recognising the problem and facing it head on, I am sure we can find the path to a solution,” he further wrote.

Read related story: Catalonia crisis: Spain’s National Day marred by Catalan secession crisis

Following this confusion today, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría expressed her disappointment and told media that Puigdemont is ‘prolonging the situation’.

“It’s not a hard question we have asked, it’s not a hard question to respond to. 10:00 a.m. (local time) on Thursday is the deadline,” Santamaría said.
Rajoy is upset with the Catalan government for not indicating whether it has declared independence from Madrid, after its illegal referendum on October 1 found that around 90 per cent of voters wanted to leave Spain.

The Spanish government also believes that the growing uncertainty over Catalonia imperils Spain’s recovery from the financial crisis. The two biggest Catalan banks have already moved their legal headquarters to other parts of Spain, while ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has warned of a recession in the region if the crisis drags on.

 

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