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Spanish govt to halt suspension of Catalan self-rule if snap elections are called

President Rajoy warns he will take measures "that it would undoubtedly be better not to ever take" unless Puigdemont makes it clear independence was not declared

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18 October 2017 01:39 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Mariano Rajoy might take serious measures on Catalonia soon. The Spanish president urged his counterpart, Carles Puigdemont, to answer his official request before the ultimatum expires on Thursday. Otherwise he will “take decisions that it would undoubtedly be better not to ever take,” he said in the Spanish Congress on Wednesday referring to the suspension of Catalonia’s self-government.

However, he also said that the Spanish government would not enforce Article 155 if Puigdemont calls snap elections in Catalonia, ACN learned. Yet the Catalan foreign minister has already said that snap elections are not in the executive's plans. 

Rajoy sent a letter to Puigdemont last week asking the latter to clarify if he had declared independence in a speech on October 10. The Catalan president’s answer was to ask for dialogue and a meeting. Now a final deadline for him to “rectify his position” and deny that independence was declared is getting near: it expires on Thursday at 10am.  

Catalan government position

The Spanish leader asked the Catalan president to “act with sense and balance” by answering the question. The executive in Barcelona said that despite the new ultimatum, its position will remain the same: an offer to Madrid of a two-month period to sit at the negotiating table. Otherwise, full-fledged independence might be declared.

  • "The government is obliged to act in a way that the Constitution provides"

    Mariano Rajoy · Spanish president

On the other hand, if Puigdemont does not answer with a clear No, “the government is obliged to act in a way that the Constitution provides,” said Rajoy. He was referring to Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows the state to take full control of any Spanish territory under exceptional circumstances. 

Dozens of lawmakers show posters asking for ‘freedom for political prisoners’ in the Spanish Congress

Also at the same time in the Spanish lower chamber plenary session this Wednesday dozens of lawmakers showed posters asking for the two pro-independence civil leaders to be released from jail. “Freedom for political prisoners,” read the posters shown by left-wing Podemos, pro-independence PDeCAT and ERC –occupying one in four seats in the Congress.

The leaders of the two main civil associations asking for the independence of Catalonia, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, were provisionally sent to prison on Monday. They are being investigated for sedition on the grounds that they led some protests on September 20 which made it difficult for Spanish police to complete raids on Catalan government buildings. Spanish police had organized a massive operation, mainly in Barcelona, to stop the October 1 referendum.

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  • Mariano Rajoy entering the Spanish Congress this Wednesday (by Tània Tapia)

  • Dozens of lawmakers showing posters asking for ‘freedom for political prisoners’ in the Spanish Congress (by Dani Gago)

  • Mariano Rajoy entering the Spanish Congress this Wednesday (by Tània Tapia)
  • Dozens of lawmakers showing posters asking for ‘freedom for political prisoners’ in the Spanish Congress (by Dani Gago)

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