Spain gives Catalan leader 5 days to clarify independence

Europe:Madrid stock market jumps at open

Europe:Madrid stock market jumps at open

The central government in Madrid has given little indication it is willing to talk, saying it did not accept the declaration and did not consider the referendum or its results to be valid.

Rajoy gave Puigdemont until Monday to clarify whether the declaration of independence is real - and, if it is, until October 19, eight days from now, to either back down or be deposed.

Spain's main opposition party, the Socialist party, agreed with the ruling People's Party that the Catalan regional government has to clarify whether there was a declaration of independence or not, the Socialist's leader Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria described Puigdemont as someone "who does not know where he is, where he's going".

BBC reports that the Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence on Tuesday.

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Mr Rajoy has vowed to use everything in his power to prevent independence and has refused to rule out imposing direct rule over the semi-autonomous region - an unprecedented move many fear could lead to unrest.

"Today I ask you [Puidgemont] to respect - in your intentions - the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make such a dialogue impossible".

While separatist leaders say 90 percent of voters opted to split from Spain in the October referendum, less than half of the region's eligible voters actually turned out.

Rajoy said that he was asking for clarification from President Puigdemont, who he accused of creating "deliberate confusion".

"The answer from the Catalan president will determine future events, in the next few days", the prime minister pointed out.

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It is unclear how Puidgemont's play for time will be received in Madrid, which has consistently said independence is not up for discussion.

"I assume ... the mandate that Catalonia become an independent state in the form of a republic", he said to prolonged applause.

Catalonia is relatively wealthy, and the loss of the region would be a blow to the Spanish economy. He was referring to several big companies which have moved their headquarters outside of Catalonia in recent days.

But on Wednesday morning, the Spanish stock market rose 1.16 percent on hopes for a breakthrough in the crisis.

But in discussing the controversy now raging over Catalonian independence, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also made clear Tuesday that the administration stood by the president's remarks September 26 that "Spain is a great country and it should be united".

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