The Spanish government has announced that it will take control of Catalonia if its leader, Carles Puigdemont, refrains from giving Madrid a definite answer on whether it has declared independence.
“The answer must be without any ambiguity. He must say Yes’ or No,” said Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido on Saturday. “If he answers ambiguously, it means he doesn’t want dialogue and thus the Spanish government will have to take action.”
On Wednesday, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave Puigdemont eight days to dismiss the independence bid or face the suspension of Catalonia’s political autonomy as stated in article 155 of Spain’s Constitution.
Last week, the Catalan leader signed a symbolic declaration of independence following the referendum but held off on officially declaring independence. Puigdemont claimed that 90 percent of the voters in the referendum had backed secession, but the turnout had been put at only 43 percent.
Spain has been in turmoil since the separatist government in Catalonia held a disputed referendum on October 1.
The Spanish government went out of its way to avert the referendum, raiding venues and confiscating ballot boxes and papers, arresting officials, and even installing police forces at sites where polling stations managed to get set up to physically remove voters. Security forces used batons and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of voters, wounding nearly 900 people.
Despite the crackdown, some 2.26 million of Catalonia’s 5.3 million registered voters managed to cast their ballots, according to figures released by the regional government. Ninety percent of the participants voted in favor of secession from Spain, the regional government said.