Spanish PM gives Catalan leader 5 days to clarify independence declaration

MADRID, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday sent Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont a formal petition for him to "confirm" whether or not the Catalan region's parliament had declared independence from Spain in its session held on Tuesday night.

The Spanish PM accuses Puigdemont of causing "deliberate confusion" during Tuesday's speech. The Catalan leader said he wanted to "follow people's will for Catalonia to become an independent state," but proposed suspending effect of the independence declaration to allow for "dialogue" with Madrid.

Puigdemont has been given five days to respond according to Spanish media and if he replies that he has indeed declared Catalan independence, he then has until 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19 to rectify that decision, otherwise Rajoy will begin proceedings to implement Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

This Article would temporarily suspend Catalan autonomy and return control to Madrid, until new elections are called and held.

The news comes at the end of a day in which Rajoy also addressed the Spanish Congress in a special session to discuss the Catalan crisis.

He said it was in the hands of the Catalan leader whether or not things would "return to normality," adding that Spanish democracy was facing "one of its most serious threats" in 40 years and that "no responsible government can allow this."

"Any government is obliged to defend the unity of the country," continued the Spanish prime minister, who said he was willing to talk, but could not negotiate "about the indivisibility of Spain."

"There is no mediation possible between disobedience and legality," commented Rajoy, who also said he would not oppose a change to the Constitution as supported by Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera and Podemos' Pablo Iglesias, "but only through the mechanisms designed to do so."

Meanwhile Puigdemont gave an interview to CNN in which he said it would be "unjustifiable and an error" for the Spanish government to implement Article 155.

[ Editor: meng ]


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