Madrid, Oct 16 (IANS) The president of the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia on Monday failed to clarify whether his administration had officially declared independence from Spain and instead called for talks.
In a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont asked for two months of dialogue over the status of the region in northwest Spain, which held a disputed independence referendum on October 1, BBC reported.
Rajoy had set a deadline of 10 a.m. Monday for Puigdemont to clarify whether an ambiguous speech he delivered to the Catalan Parliament last week in the wake of the referendum amounted to a declaration of independence.
Rajoy had put Catalonia on notice that, if it had officially declared a split, he would invoke provisions contained in Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allow the central government to dissolve the Catalan administration and order new elections.
Puigdemont told the Catalan Parliament last week that the region had earned the right to declare an independent republic after 90 per cent of voters in the referendum chose to split from Spain. But he suspended the effects of the declaration to allow for talks.
“The suspension on our side of the results, that come out of the vote on October 1, shows our firm commitment to finding a solution and avoiding confrontation,” Puigdemont wrote in his letter to Rajoy.
“Our call for dialogue is sincere and honest. That is why during the next two months our main objective is to to invite you to have dialogue, and that all those international, Spanish and Catalan institutions and personalities who have expressed their will to help establish negotiations, have the opportunity to explore this option,” he wrote.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría was due to respond to the letter.
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