Spain hints at direct rule in Catalonia

Photo: File.

Spain's prime minister has put Catalonia on notice that it could impose direct rule on the region, reports the BBC.

Mariano Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.

The move is the first step towards suspending Catalonia's autonomy under the constitution.

Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence on Tuesday but halted implementation to allow for talks.

Spain has been in turmoil since a disputed referendum in Catalonia on 1 October which was declared invalid by the country's Constitutional Court.

Mr Rajoy accused Catalan President Carles Puigdemont of having created "deliberate confusion" and said he wanted to restore "certainty".

"This call - ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution - seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires," Mr Rajoy said.

"There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through - to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible."

Mr Rajoy was speaking after holding an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the government's next steps.

The leader of the opposition Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, struck a more conciliatory tone.

He told reporters that his party and the government had agreed to examine the possibility of using constitutional reform to end the crisis.

This would be focused on "how Catalonia remains in Spain, and not how it leaves", he added.


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