Mass protest held in Barcelona against Catalonia independence
Video provided by AFP
MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy demanded on Wednesday that the Catalan leader clarify whether he has declared independence, issuing a veiled threat that the central government could limit or rescind the regionâs autonomy if he has.
Rajoy said the Catalan governmentâs response would be crucial in deciding âevents over the coming days.â
It is the first time that Rajoy has openly said that Article 155 of the Spanish constitution will be the next step taken by the government if Catalan authorities donât backtrack. He said the government âwants to offer certainty to citizensâ and that it is ânecessary to return tranquility and calm.â
Rajoy issued the demand following a special Cabinet meeting to respond to an announcement from the president of the wealthy Catalonia region, Carles Puigdemont, that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence but was suspending it for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.
Opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said that Spainâs two main political parties agreed to renegotiate laws governing autonomy. He said a deal was reached with Rajoy to open talks in six months on reforming the constitution that would allow changes to the current setup governing Spainâs 17 regions, including Catalonia.
Sanchez said his party wanted the reform to âallow for Catalonia to remain a part of Spain,â and that the socialists were backing Rajoyâs call for clarification from Puigdemont.