Catalan leader under pressure to drop independence push

Catalan leader under pressure to drop independence push

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has formally demanded the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to clarify whether independence has been declared or not, following the local leader's speech on the October 1 referendum results.

Nearly 90 per cent of 42-percent vote in controversial independence referendum in Catalonia voted for pro-independence vote.

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

That article allows the central government to take control of an autonomous region, if it fails to "fulfill the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain".

The Catalan leader on Tuesday night pulled back from declaring immediate independence, instead calling for more dialogue with Spain in a bid to resolve the situation peacefully.

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On Wednesday, Spain's central government gave Catalonia one week to clarify if it will push ahead with declaring independence. But Sanchez said it would focus on "not leaving Catalonia, but how to stay in Spain".

"If he's watching us, if he's listening, stop everything and don't declare unilateral independence", he told reporters in Barcelona.

The deadline sets the clock ticking on Spain's most serious political emergency since its return to democracy four decades ago. It's unclear how Catalonia can gain control of its defense and foreign affairs, tax collection and management of airports, ports, rail transport and nuclear stations, most of which are now managed by Spain. Most of the region's unionists boycotted the 1 October referendum, which was banned by Madrid and marred by a violent police crackdown. Rajoy issued his demand following a special Cabinet meeting called to shape Madrid's response to Tuesday's announcement from Puigdemont that he was proceeding with an independence declaration, but suspending implementation to facilitate negotiations.

Many Catalans have long highlighted the region's differences from the rest of Spain but the latest surge for independence began in 2010, when Spain's top court struck down key parts of a charter that would have granted Catalonia greater autonomy and recognized it as a nation within Spain.

Yesterday, a crowd estimated by local police to number 350,000, took to the streets of the Catalan capital Barcelona, waving Spanish and Catalan flags and carrying banners saying "Catalonia is Spain" and "Together we are stronger".

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