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Spanish PM calls on Catalan leader to ‘return to legality’

IANS | Madrid |

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday called on Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to return to “legality” as soon as possible in order to end the ongoing crisis in Catalonia.

“Is there a solution to this? Yes and the best solution is a rapid return to legality and the confirmation as soon as possible that there is not going to be a unilateral declaration of independence (in the Catalan region), because that would avoid things getting worse,” Xinhua quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

“I think that everyone shares the idea is that all of those people and leaders who have decided that to stand outside of the law return to legality,” he added.

Rajoy was speaking four days after the Catalan independence referendum, declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

There was a general strike in Catalonia on October 3 with hundreds of thousands of people protesting, while there have also been wide-scale protests outside of hotels where police are being housed during the crisis.

There has been no relaxation in the tension with a strong message from King Felipe VI of Spain accusing Catalan authorities of breaking the Spanish Constitution and their Autonomous Status “in a repeated and systematic manner” and in showing “inadmissible disloyalty to the powers of the state.”

In return, Puigdemont on Wednesday spoke reproaching the King’s attitude, saying “in that way no,” but also saying he was open to dialogue.

Although Puigdemont has said he is open to dialogue, it is also true that the Catalan regional government have been called to a session on Monday October 9 with the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence on the agenda.

Allegedly 90 per cent of the approximately 2.2 million Catalans who voted on Sunday (41 per cent of the total number allowed to vote) casting their vote in favour of separating from Spain.

The Spanish Constitutional Court on Thursday afternoon suspended this sitting of the Catalan assembly in which UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence ) will be discussed.

This in turn presents the possibility of pro-independence parties sitting on their own, which could bring forward a central government decision to bring Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution into effect and suspend the autonomy of the region.