Catalan president rules out unilateral declaration of independence

Madrid, Jan 16 (IANS) Carles Puigdemont, the President of the Catalan region in the north east of Spain, denied on Thursday night on Catalan television that he was planning to declare the independence of the area in the near future.

Puigdemont, a member of the pro-independence coalition Junts pel Si, was on Sunday confirmed as the Catalan president after a last minute agreement on Saturday with fellow nationalist party CUP, Xinhua reported.

During his investiture on Tuesday, he had appeared to accept the roadmap designed by former Junts pel Si leader Artur Mas, which involved achieving Catalan independence within 18 months.

“The independence declaration opened the constituent process and I hope by the end of the session we will have the instruments to put it into practice,” he said in his investiture speech on Tuesday.

However, appearing on Catalan’s TV3 channel on Thursday, Puigdemont stepped back from this posture, insisting a unilateral declaration of independence “was not in the plans.”

“Our electoral promise was not a unilateral declaration of independence,” he insisted, saying the aim was first to draw up a constitution for the region and then look for the approval of “a majority of Catalans,” in a subsequent referendum.

He also told the public broadcaster he had yet to speak to acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy or Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, both of whom have insisted they would use the law in order to defend the Spanish sovereignty.

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