Monday, October 16, 2017

Catalan leader refuses to clarify independence stance

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has failed to clarify whether or not Catalonia plans to break away from Spain, and has instead called for talks.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had given Puigdemont until Monday 10:00am local (08:00 GMT) to make his position clear and until Thursday to change his mind if he called to secede. Rajoy has threatened that Madrid would suspend Catalonia's autonomy if Puigdemont chooses secession.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker in Barcelona:

"Puigdemont is not going to say yes or no as to whether or not independence has been declared. All we have now is this key letter which sets out a series of demands, and completely obfuscates the question set forth by Madrid.

On the Catalan demand for talks, Rajoy has made it clear that negotiations are not on the table.

Puigdemont also demanded the withdrawal of national police, of which there are 12,000 in Catalonia.

Another demand is the immediate release of four, key, high-profile Catalans. We're talking about senior police officials and two leaders of civil society organisations that have links to the Catalan leadership. The police officials face charges of sedition which carry a possible 15-year prison sentence."
In his letter to Rajoy on Monday ahead of the deadline, published by Catalan media, Puigdemont did not directly answer yes or no to whether he is declaring independence, and said the two sides should meet "in spite of everything that that has happened".

He said the offer of dialogue is "honest and sincere".

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