BARCELONA: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy demanded Wednesday that the leader of Catalonia clarify whether he has declared the region’s independence, issuing a veiled threat that the central government could limit or rescind Catalan autonomy if he has.
Rajoy said Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s response would be crucial in deciding “events over the coming days.”
The prime minister’s remarks marked the first time that Rajoy has openly said that invoking a section of the Spanish Constitution that allows the government to assert control over regions would be the next step, if Catalan authorities don’t backtrack.
The central government “wants to offer certainty to citizens” and that it is “necessary to return tranquillity and calm,” he said following a special Cabinet meeting.
Rajoy issued the demand in response to Puigdemont’s announcement that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence, but suspending the move from taking effect for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.
Opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said Spain’s two main political parties have agreed to renegotiate laws governing autonomy amid Catalonia’s independence bid.
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.