Spain to start formal proceedings to suspend Catalonia's autonomy

Xinhua
Spain's cabinet will hold a special session Saturday to approve the suspension of its affluent but disruptive Catalonia region's autonomy.
Xinhua

Spain's cabinet will hold a special session Saturday to approve the suspension of its affluent but disruptive Catalonia region's autonomy, and impose central rule in response to Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's failure to clarify if he had declared Catalonia's "independence" from Spain.

 Puigdemont failed to give a clear answer to the government on whether he had declared independence on Oct. 10, before the government deadline of 10:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Thursday expired, according to a government release.

The crisis developed after about 2.26 million people took part in a referendum on Catalan independence on Oct. 1 despite the Spanish constitutional court ruling it illegal. An estimated 2.02 million reportedly voted in favor of "independence". Over 300 people were injured during violent clashes across the country on the day.

Consequently, the Spanish government has decided to invoke Article 155 of the constitution, which says if a regional government "doesn't comply with the obligations of the constitution" or acts in a way that "seriously undermines the interests of Spain", the national government can take "necessary measures" to enforce compliance.

It will result in temporary suspension of Catalan autonomy and imposition of Madrid's direct rule, until probably new elections are held in the region.

The cabinet will hold a special session Saturday to approve the suspension of Catalonia's autonomy to protect "the interests of all ... Spanish people, including the Catalans," the release said.

Once the government asks the Senate to vote on the use of the article, it must get absolute majority.

In a letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont said the Catalan regional assembly "did not vote" on a unilateral declaration of independence and criticized the government's "unwillingness" to hold dialogue on the matter.

He also said the regional assembly would vote on a formal declaration of independence if the central government "persists in impeding dialogue and continues with repression."

The wealthy Catalonia region, with a population of 7.5 million, accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economic output. Residents mostly speak Catalan, a language that some believe is a Spanish dialect but some argue to be a totally different language. 


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