Catalonia's response on independence is not valid – Madrid

Catalonia has failed to clarify its stance on independence in Monday’s letter from the region’s leader Carles Puigdemont to Spainish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, according to Spain's Justice Minister Rafael Catala.

Just hours before the deadline to clearly define the region’s position on its bid for independence, Puigdemont sent a letter to Rajoy which contained no clarification regarding the issue.

However, the response was described as “not valid” by Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala, local media reports.

Madrid wanted to receive a simple “yes” or “no” answer, but the Catalan leader failed to give it, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria stated on Monday.

She reiterated that Puigdemont has “the opportunity to start resolving this situation” until Thursday. If he still refuses to drop the independence bid directly, the central government may trigger Article 155 and strip the region of its autonomy.

In a reply to Catalan leader’s letter, the Spanish Prime Minister blasted calls for dialogue as “not credible” and asked Puigdemont to address the national parliament to voice his demands. Rajoy also said the Catalan leader would be “solely responsible” if the central government applies the constitution.

Instead of providing a clearanswer, Puigdemont called for “a sincere dialogue” with the central government and asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss a preliminary deal on Catalonia’s secession from Spain.

The Catalan leader also referred to the commencement of a “two-month process” for reaching a deal as a sign of “the firm will” to find a solution and avoid confrontation.

He called off the unilateral declaration of independence right after its announcement on October 10, leading to Madrid’s demands for clarification of the Catalan government position.

READ MORE: Spanish police used excessive force in Catalonia during referendum – HRW

The clarification deadline set by the central government expired at 10am local (08:00 GMT) Monday. The region’s authorities can also change their minds before Thursday if Puigdemont insists on secession from Spain.

Otherwise, Madrid would move to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous status under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

Catalonia held an independence referendum on October 1, which was outlawed by the Spanish Constitutional Court and proceeded amid violent attacks from Spanish law enforcement. The overwhelming majority of the Catalans who came out to vote supported the region’s secession from Spain.