Spain's cabinet to meet Saturday to discuss suspending Catalan autonomy

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-19 19:29

MADRID -- Spain's cabinet will meet on Saturday to discuss suspending the Catalonia region's autonomy and imposing central rule in response to Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's threat of secession unless talks were held on the issue.

About 2.26 million people took part in a referendum on Catalan independence on Oct. 1 despite a government ban on it, with 2.02 million casting "yes" votes.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week gave Puigdemont a Thursday 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) deadline, asking for a clear response on whether he had declared Catalan independence on Oct. 10.

Puigdemont's reaction was to write to Rajoy Thursday, proposing dialogue. The letter said, "Despite all of these efforts and our will for dialogue, the fact the only reply is the suspension of our autonomy implies that (the government) is not aware of the problem and does not want to talk."

"If the central government persists in impeding dialogue and continuing its repression, Catalonia's parliament will, f it considers it appropriate, vote on a formal declaration of independence," he said.

The wealthy Catalonia region, with a population of 7.5 million, accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economic output. Residents mostly speak Catalan, a language that some believe is a Spanish dialect but some argue to be a totally different language.

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