Spain’s central government in Madrid will suspend Catalonia’s autonomy unless the region stops its push for independence by 10 am local time.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya de Santamaria reiterated on Wednesday that Madrid would take direct control of the territory should Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont declare the region independent.
Local newspaper La Vangaurdia reported that the Catalan president told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that Catalonia was “ready for independence” early on Thursday.
Rajoy promised for weeks that Spanish would stop Barcelona from raising tensions, and pressure is raising for him to revoke Catalan’s current autonomy.
Puigdemont also has the option from Madrid to declare a regional election, submitting defeat of the popular independence movement.
After positive results in the Oct 1 independence referendum, Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence but blocked its implementation until negotiations could occur between Madrid and Barcelona.
Spain gave the deadline to clarify whether it has declared independence or not in response to Mr Puigdemont’s speech on Oct 10.
Reports say Puigdemont told his Catalan Democratic Party that he plans to make a more formal declaration of independence.
If Puigdemont pushes for separation on Thursday, he will be given another three days to rescind the declaration before Article 155 of the national constitution is triggered, according to Efe news agency.
If the article is activated, Catalonia would lose the right to its semi-autonomy and be put under direct rule by Madrid.
Two separatists arrested
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are being held by the national police and investigated for sedition – a move which many see as a politically motivated arrest.
Both Jordi’s were leading figures during the independence vote on Oct 1.
Mandate to declare independence
Mr Puigdemont said the independence referendum results gave his regional government a mandate to declare independence, but that he would hold off “a few weeks” to explore negotiations with Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that his officials had asked Catalonia to clarify whether a declaration had been given, with a deadline of five days, according to local media.
If Catalonia confirms independence, Puigdement will be given another three days to rescind the declaration before Article 155 of the national constitution is triggered, according to Efe news agency.
The constitution allows Madrid to dismiss the region’s current semi-autonomy and launch direct rule on Catalonia after the three days.