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Spain gives Catalan leader 8 days to drop independence

13 October 2017

"The cabinet has agreed this morning to formally request the Catalan government to confirm whether it has declared the independence of Catalonia, regardless of the deliberate confusion created over its implementation", Rajoy said in a televised address after a cabinet meeting called to consider the government's response.

The CUP statement echoes the position expressed late on Thursday by influential pro-independence 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)".

In addition to pressure from Spain, two key allies of Puigdemont's government called on him to ignore the Spanish government's threats and press ahead with proclaiming a new republic.

The central government has given Puigdemont a Monday deadline to make clear whether he has already declared independence for the region and to fall in line with Spain's laws by October 19 if he wants to avoid losing some or all of the region's autonomous powers.

"The CUP-CC believes we lost an opportunity on October 10", the letter read, referring to the day that Puigdemont suspended the independence process during a highly-anticipated speech to Catalan parliament. He rejected any form of mediation.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, responded by asking Puigdemont whether or not independence had been declared and gave him eight days to drop his independence plans and return Catalonia to "constitutional order".

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It will be clear whether independence is a success in the following week when the deadline imposed by Spain to declare independence will run out and there will inevitably be a confrontation between Catalonia and Madrid. Puigdemont justified his decision as a compromise between following the "people's will", shown by 90 percent of voters backing independence, and his desire to "de-escalate" the tension with Madrid that has resulted.

The Spanish economy could grow less than initially expected in 2018 due to uncertainty over Catalonia, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sainz de Santamaria said on Friday.

Saenz de Santamaria accused Puigdemont of "seriously damaging Catalonia's economic stability".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also joined the appeal to the Catalan separatists for halting their secession bid, warning that such a move will only encourage other regions to break away.

He said in Luxembourg that he "wouldn't like a European Union that in 15 years consists of 98 states".

Spain gives Catalan leader 8 days to drop independence