Direct rule threat: Catalan leader rules out snap poll

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday ruled out holding a snap regional election to break the deadlock between the central government and separatists seeking a split from Spain, sharpening the

political crisis.

Puigdemont had been expected to announce an election in order to counter Madrid’s moves to take direct control of autonomous Catalonia. But, speaking in the courtyard of the regional government

headquarters in Barcelona, Puigdemont said he had not received sufficient guarantees from the central government that holding an election would prevent the imposition of direct rule.

“I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given. There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today,” Puigdemont said. He said it was now up to the Catalan Parliament to move forward with a

mandate to split from Spain following an independence referendum that took place on October 1 — an event Madrid had declared illegal and tried to stop.

Puigdemont’s stand sets the stage for the Spanish Senate to approve the take-over of Catalonia’s institutions and police, and give the government the power to remove the Catalan President. But it could also

lead to confrontation in the streets as some independence supporters have promised to mount a campaign of civil disobedience.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, speaking in a televised Senate committee, said: “The independence leaders have shown their true face, they have promised a dream but are performing

tricks.”  The aim of Article 155 — the constitutional device allowing direct rule — was to permit any election to take place in a normal and neutral situation, she said.

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