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Catalan government allies say talks with Madrid ‘impossible’

Catalan regional government president Carles Puigdemont signs a document about the independence of Catalonia at the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona on October 10, 2017. Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont said he accepted the “mandate of the people” for the region to become “an independent republic,” but proposed suspending its immediate implementation to allow for dialogue./ AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

The far-left allies of Catalonia’s separatist government said Saturday talks with Madrid were “impossible” and called on regional leader Carles Puigdemont to push ahead with immediate independence.

“Dialogue is impossible, mediation is impossible,” said Nuria Gibert, a spokeswoman for the far-left CUP party, which has consistently called for swift secession from the rest of Spain.

The CUP is a key ally of the Catalan government, as it has 10 lawmakers in the regional parliament without which the ruling separatist coalition would not have an absolute majority.

Puigdemont last week said he accepted the mandate from a banned October 1 referendum for “Catalonia to become an independent state” but added he was suspending independence pending talks with Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by giving Puigdemont until next Thursday to abandon his secession push, failing which he may trigger unprecedented constitutional steps that could see Madrid take control of the semi-autonomous region.

The separatist leader has until an initial Monday deadline to decide on his plans.

“We demand that Mr. Puigdemont’s response on Monday be clearly affirmative,” Gibert told reporters in Barcelona.

“He must lift the suspension and there must be a solemn and comprehensible proclamation of a republic to citizens,” she added.

She also warned the CUP would look to mobilise people on the streets next week.

On Saturday, another senior separatist official, Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, said the offer of talks with Madrid was aimed at negotiating the region’s independence from Spain, rather than halting it.



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