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Mass protest held in Barcelona against Catalonia independence
Video provided by AFP
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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 region’s autonomy if he has.

Rajoy said the Catalan government’s response would be crucial in deciding “events over the coming days.”

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 don’t backtrack. He said the government “wants to offer certainty to citizens” and that it is “necessary to return tranquility and calm.”

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.

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Opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said that Spain’s 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 Spain’s 17 regions, including Catalonia.

Sanchez said his party wanted the reform to “allow for Catalonia to remain a part of Spain,” and that the socialists were backing Rajoy’s call for clarification from Puigdemont.