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Spanish leader Rajoy demands clarity on Catalonia crisis, hints at using 'nuclear option'

  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the government has agreed to formally ask regional authorities in Catalonia whether it had declared independence or not
  • Article 155 — the so-called "nuclear option" — would see Rajoy sacking the Catalan government before fresh elections
  • He hinted that a decision on what to do next rested on the Catalan response
Pierre-Philippe Marcou | AFP | Getty Images

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the government has agreed to formally ask regional authorities in Catalonia whether it had declared independence or not, after an ambiguous statement from Catalan President Carles Puigdement.

Addressing the Spanish parliament on Wednesday morning, Rajoy said that this requirement for clarity "comes before any other measure that could be taken under Article 155 of the constitution," Reuters reported.

Article 155 — the so-called "nuclear option" — would see Rajoy sacking the Catalan government before fresh elections.

Rajoy said the Spanish government "wants to offer certainty to the Spanish people and particularly the Catalan people and it wants to avoid confusion generated by the Generalitat (Catalan government) authorities on a matter that affects and concerns them very much," he said in a televised address.

He hinted that a decision on what to do next rested on the Catalan response.

"In the reply that the president of the Generalitat (Carles Puigdemont) may give to this requirement (over whether Catalonia has declared independence or not) then the future of events in the following days will take place."

The address comes a day after Catalan President Carles Puigdement told the regional parliament that the people of Catalonia had won the right to independence following the symbolic referendum vote on October 1.

However, he stepped back from a declaration of independence, instead asking the regional parliament to suspend the majority "yes" vote in favor of independence and called for dialogue with the Spanish government and international mediation.

Puigdemont added that the current relationship between Catalonia and the Spanish government was unsustainable.

Rajoy has remained silent until now, although his deputy said on Tuesday that "neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim ... to impose mediation. Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law."