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Catalonia Won’t Say If It Has Already Declared Independence From Spain

Protesters carry Esteladas, Catalan separatist flags, and Basque flags, during a rally in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain for the autonomous community of Catalonia, in the Basque city of Bilbao, Spain September 9, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent West/File PhotoProtesters carry Esteladas, Catalan separatist flags, and Basque flags, during a rally in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain for the autonomous community of Catalonia, in the Basque city of Bilbao, Spain September 9, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent West/File Photo

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont failed to meet Spain’s Monday deadline to clarify whether the region has declared independence or not.

Spain instead extended the deadline until Thursday. If Puigdemont fails to clarify Catalonia’s stance, the autonomous region risks falling under direct rule by Spain.

Puigdemont postponed Catalonia’s independence during a speech Tuesday. The wording of the speech left it unclear whether the “suspension” was a declaration of independence or a commitment to leave Spain in the future. (RELATED: Catalonia Postpones Independence Plans)

Puigdemont said in a letter to Spain Monday that his “suspension of the political mandate given by the polls on 1 October demonstrates our firm will to find a solution and not confrontation. For the next two months, our main objective is to bring you to dialogue.”

The Spanish government will likely trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to suspend Catalonia’s status as an autonomous region if it moves to declare independence in the future. The Catalan government would then have between 24 and 48 hours to reverse its course. If it chooses to not comply, Spain could enact direct rule over Catalonia.

“Article 155 allows for many possibilities, with the limit being a total suspension of autonomy,” Josep Maria Castellà, a constitutional law professor at the University of Barcelona, told BBC. “Other options include the suspension of certain competencies, such as security. The important thing for the state will be to ensure control of ports, airports, communication centers and borders by forces of the Spanish state.”

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