Spain set to impose direct rule on Catalonia

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Catalonia Suspends Declaration of Independence for Talks with Madrid

However, he added that Barcelona delayed any declaration of independence in order to continue talks with Madrid.

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.

Following his declaration to Parliament, Puigdemont and his allies signed an Independence declaration outside the chamber, but its legal validity was unclear.

The prime minister's carefully worded statement was responding to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont's announcement late on Tuesday that he had a mandate to push for independence but would hold off while seeking talks with the Spanish government over the future of his region.

"We aren't criminals, nor insane, nor coup plotters, nor abducted", he said.

Crowds of thousands gathered outside the Parliament building in Barcelona Tuesday evening, waving Catalan flags and banners screaming "democracy" in the hope of witnessing a historic night in a region that remains deeply divided over Independence.

Mariano Rajoy on October 11.

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.

He said the "people's will" was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to "de-escalate" the tension around the issue.

In Brussels, there was a sense of relief that the euro zone's fourth-largest economy now had at least bought some time to deal with a crisis that was still far from over.

One EU official said Puigdemont "seems to have listened to advice not to do something irreversible".

Around 90 per cent of those who cast ballots voted for Independence but the poll was poorly monitored and many Catalans opposed to secession boycotted it.

The question of Catalan independence, the Spanish Government's handling of the situation, and theEuropean Union's response were running themes at the SNP conference this week, with a topical resolution passed by members expressing support for the Catalan people in the face of police violence.

Demands for independence in Catalonia, which has its own language and cultural traditions, date back centuries.

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