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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Spanish Government Rejects Catalan President’s Call for Dialogue

MADRID – Spain’s deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria reiterated on Tuesday that the government cannot accept the validity of Catalonia’s Oct. 1 independence referendum and refuses to acknowledge any claims in that northeastern region’s parliament that a majority of Catalans have voted for secession.

Saenz de Santamaria made her remarks after the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, told the regional parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday that the referendum had given validity to his government’s bid for unilateral independence.

Puigdemont, however, also asked the Catalan parliament to suspend secession to allow time for dialogue with Madrid.

Saenz de Santamaria, in a speech at Moncloa Palace, the Spanish prime minister’s residence, accused Puigdemont of plunging that autonomous community into great uncertainty.

She said his remarks were those of a person who “doesn’t know where he is going and what he wants to do.”

The deputy prime minister said Puigdemont cannot impose mediation on Spain’s government because dialogue only is possible if the rules of the game are respected.

She was referring to the fact the Spanish courts had suspended the Oct. 1 plebiscite and declared it illegal.

Saenz de Santamaria said conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had scheduled an extraordinary Cabinet meeting for Wednesday morning to go over what measures to take in response to Puigdemont’s declaration.

Further adding to the confusion Tuesday, lawmakers from secessionist parties including Junts pel Si, the leftist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) and Puigdemont’s Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) signed a document that declares Catalonia’s independence without any mention about suspending the effects of the declaration.

That manifesto, however, has no legal effect because it will not be officially registered in Catalonia’s parliament.

Quim Arrufat, spokesman for the national secretariat of the CUP, a far-left party that has taken the hardest line on Catalonia’s push for independence, said that political grouping had lost some confidence in the region’s government in the wake of Puigdemont’s declaration Tuesday.

He said a proposal would be made to the party’s political council to suspend the activity of its lawmakers while the declaration of independence is on hold.

The Puigdemont administration said that 90 percent of the 42 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots on Oct. 1 – a process boycotted by parties that oppose secession – voted in favor of independence.

Spain’s government, however, says that not only did regional authorities act illegally in holding the referendum but that due to numerous irregularities the balloting even violated the terms set forth in the plebiscite law (which the Constitutional Court suspended).

 

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