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Spanish PM calls on Catalan leader to "return to legality"
From:Xinhua  |  2017-10-05 23:42

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MADRID, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday called on Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to return to "legality" as soon as possible in order to end the ongoing crisis in Catalonia.

"Is there a solution to this? Yes and the best solution is a rapid return to legality and the confirmation as soon as possible that there is not going to be a unilateral declaration of independence (in the Catalan region), because that would avoid things getting worse," said the prime minister in an interview carried by the Spanish media.

"I think that everyone shares the idea is that all of those people and leaders who have decided that to stand outside of the law return to legality," he added.

Rajoy was speaking four days after the Catalan independence referendum, declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional court.

There was a general strike in Catalonia on Oct. 3 with hundreds of thousands of people protesting, while there have also been wide-scale protests outside of hotels where police are being housed during the crisis.

There has been no relaxation in the tension with a strong message from King Felipe VI of Spain accusing Catalan authorities of breaking the Spanish Constitution and their Autonomous Status "in a repeated and systematic manner" and in showing "inadmissible disloyalty to the powers of the state."

In return, Puigdemont on Wednesday spoke reproaching the King's attitude, saying "in that way no," but also saying he was open to dialogue.

Although Puigdemont has said he is open to dialogue, it is also true that the Catalan regional government have been called to a session on Monday Oct. 9 with the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence on the agenda after allegedly 90 percent of the approximately 2.2 million Catalans who voted on Sunday (41 percent of the total number allowed to vote) casting their vote in favor of separating from Spain.

The Spanish Constitutional Court on Thursday afternoon suspended this sitting of the Catalan assembly in which UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence ) will be discussed.

This in turn presents the possibility of pro-independence parties sitting on their own, which could bring forward a central government decision to bring Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution into effect and suspend the autonomy of the region.

The leader of the center-right Ciudadanos party, Albert Rivera, has already asked for this to happen, but Rajoy appears unwilling to apply Article 155 without the support of the Socialist Party, whose leader Pedro Sanchez is coming under increasing pressure from party barons to give his support to Rajoy.