Spanish PM Rajoy demands clarity from Catalonia on Independence

Spanish PM Rajoy demands clarity from Catalonia on Independence

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a press conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 11.

Rajoy said if Puigdemont did push ahead with secession, the central government would give him until October 19 to reconsider, before suspending Catalonia's regional autonomy.

His equivocal position seemed created to appease the most fervent separatists, but also to build support -both in Catalonia and internationally - by provoking another tough response from Rajoy's Cabinet.

National police were involved in violent scenes as they tried to stop the vote taking place.

"A full declaration of independence would have been very problematic, would have led to obvious confrontation with Madrid and he [Catalan President Carles Puigdemont] was under enormous pressure not to declare independence, including I assume from the countries that Catalonia would look to for recognition", he said.

The ensuing crisis, he said, was "one of the most hard times in our recent history".

Lawyers, civil society groups and politicians in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain have offered to mediate between the two sides, but the prime minister rejected the offers.

It was not clear how the Catalan government would respond to that offer.

"There is no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulness", Rajoy said, insisting: "There's no constitution in the world that recognises the right to self-determination". The cabinet agreed "to formally ask the Catalan government to confirm whether it declared independence", he said earlier.

He later told Spain's parliament the Catalan government had until Monday, Oct. 16 at 0800 GMT to answer.

Rajoy was speaking after holding an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the government's next steps.

The measure has never been invoked during the almost four decades since the 1978 Constitution restored democracy in post-dictatorship Spain. We must put an urgent end to the situation in Catalonia. We are normal people who are asking to vote, ' he said. Regional authorities said 90 per cent were in favour and declared the results valid. Rajoy's government had repeatedly refused to grant Catalonia permission to hold a referendum on the grounds it was unconstitutional, since it would only poll a portion of Spain's 46 million residents.

"If an autonomous community does not comply obligations that Constitution or or laws impose on it, or act in such a way as to seriously adhere to general interest of Spain, Government, upon request to President of Autonomous Community and, in case If not attended, with approval by an absolute majority of Senate, it will be able to take necessary measures to oblige that one to forced fulfilment of se obligations or for protection of aforementioned general interest". Many regions - Catalonia most of all - regard the system as outdated. The debate would focus on "how Catalonia remains in Spain, and not how it leaves", Sanchez told reporters. Rajoy said the ball was now firmly back in Puigdemont's court.

"The best would be if they could sit down and make some clarity and decide something, maybe a bit more autonomy".

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