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19 Oct, 2017 08:06

Catalonia leader threatens to declare independence if Spanish govt suspends autonomy

President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont says the region will push for independence if dialogue with Madrid fails. In response, the central authorities vowed to revoke the region’s independence, which is to be officially announced on Saturday.

“If the government continues to impede dialogue and continues with the repression, the Catalonian parliament could proceed, if it is considered opportune, to vote on a formal declaration of independence,” Puigdemont said in his second letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Spain immediately reacted to the leader’s statement, published just minutes before the deadline set by Madrid. Earlier, officials had said that if Catalonia still refuses to drop the independence bid, the central government may trigger Article 155 and revoke the region’s broad autonomy.

“The government will continue with the procedures set out in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore the legality of self-rule in Catalonia,” the government said in a statement.

The Spanish government has called a special Cabinet meeting to decide the fate of Catalan autonomy. The Cabinet will convene on Saturday and is expected to vote for returning full control of the region to Madrid.

Following the results of the outlawed vote on Catalan independence from Spain, Puigdemont announced the unilateral declaration of Catalonian independence on October 10, which was subsequently called off.

Later in October, Rajoy gave Puigdemont a deadline of October 16 to clarify his position, warning of the possible suspension of Catalonia’s autonomous status.

To meet the first deadline the regional president sent a letter to the prime minister, offering no clarification on the issue. The response was described as “not valid” by Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala, who said that Puigdemont had “the opportunity to start resolving this situation” by Thursday.

At the same time, the regional leader reiterated his commitment to dialogue and said that the halt to the independence declaration is still in force.