Puigde­mont’ al­lies urge in­de­pen­dence

Prime Min­is­ter Ra­joy has told leader to clar­ify his po­si­tion by Mon­day

Gulf News - - EUROPE -

Cata­lan leader Car­les Puigde­mont came un­der pres­sure from one of his key al­lies yes­ter­day to de­clare full in­de­pen­dence and ig­nore a threat of di­rect rule from the Span­ish gov­ern­ment.

Puigde­mont made a sym­bolic dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence on Tues­day night, only to sus­pend it sec­onds later and called for ne­go­ti­a­tions with Madrid.

Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy has given him un­til Mon­day to clar­ify his po­si­tion — and then un­til Thurs­day to change his mind if he in­sists on a split — threat­en­ing to sus­pend Cat­alo­nia’s au­ton­omy if he chooses in­de­pen­dence.

But far-left Cata­lan po­lit­i­cal group CUP called on Puigde­mont to make an un­equiv­o­cal dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence in de­fi­ance of the dead­lines.

“If [the cen­tral Madrid gov­ern­ment] wants to con­tinue to threaten and gag us, they should do it to the Repub­lic that has al­ready been claimed,” the party said.

The CUP only holds 10 seats in the 135-seat Cata­lan par­lia­ment. But Puigde­mont’s mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment re­lies on its sup­port to push through leg­is­la­tion and can­not win a ma­jor­ity vote in the re­gional par­lia­ment with its back­ing.

The wealthy re­gion’s in­ten­tion to break away af­ter a ref­er­en­dum has plunged Spain into its worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis since an at­tempted mil­i­tary coup in 1981.

Sources close to the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment said Puigde­mont and his team were work­ing on an an­swer to Ra­joy though they de­clined to say what line he might take.

The CUP state­ment echoes the po­si­tion ex­pressed late on Thurs­day by in­flu­en­tial proin­de­pen­dence civic group Asam­blea Na­cional Cata­lana which said: “Given the neg­a­tive po­si­tion of Spain to­ward di­a­logue, we ask the re­gional par­lia­ment to raise the sus­pen­sion [on the dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence].” But the leader of Puigde­mont’s party, Ar­tur Mas, who served as the re­gion’s pres­i­dent un­til 2016 and is still be­lieved to in­flu­ence key de­ci­sions, said yes­ter­day declar­ing in­de­pen­dence was not the only way for­ward.

“If a state pro­claims it­self in­de­pen­dent and can­not act as such, it’s an in­de­pen­dence that is merely aes­thetic,” he told Cata­lan tele­vi­sion TV3.

AP

Cata­lan re­gional Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont signs an in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion doc­u­ment af­ter a par­lia­men­tary ses­sion in Barcelona on Tues­day.

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