Catalan leader fails to declare independence

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Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has failed to give a clear answer about whether he has declared independence for Catalonia.

He has written a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy requesting a meeting within the next two months.

The letter, made public in Catalan media, does not directly answer the question of independence, but says the “offer of dialogue is sincere despite everything that has happened.”

Mr Rajoy had demanded a definitive statement on independence by 10am on Monday, after a contested referendum in Catalonia on 1 October.

About 90% of those who voted in the referendum backed separating from Spain, but only around 40% of people turned out, with most of those who reject secession boycotting it.

In a session of parliament last week, Mr Puigdemont announced a mandate for independence then immediately suspended it, putting the “symbolic” declaration on hold with a hope to continue negotiations with the Spanish government.

But Mr Rajoy, who deemed the 1 October referendum illegal, said there could be “no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulness”.

He threatened to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy if Mr Puigdemont declared independence.

The “nuclear option” would mean Madrid taking control of Catalonia’s government and sending in the national police in a move that would likely prove highly controversial in the wake of violence against voters during the referendum.

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