Decision day for Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont

Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont must abandon his bid for independence from Spain on Thursday by accepting a new way out, or face an unprecedented move by Madrid to seek a suspension of his region’s autonomy.
Spain appeared to have offered Catalonia’s separatists a last-minute way out of their standoff with the central government on Wednesday, suggesting fresh elections in the region could resolve the country’s worst political crisis in decades. Polls sanctioned by Madrid — unlike the referendum, which the Constitutional Court ruled illegal — would allow Catalan voters to have a say on how to move forward.

Hours before Catalan president Carles Puigdemont faces a 08:00 GMT Thursday deadline to say whether or not he is declaring independence, a government source told AFP that elections “could be considered a return to legality”.
By holding a banned independence referendum on October 1, Puigdemont sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades and has been ordered by Madrid to decide by 0800 GMT whether or not he is unilaterally declaring a split from Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy government says that it will trigger Article 155 of Spain’s constitution — a measure that would allow it to start imposing direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia — unless Puigdemont backs down.
The government had earlier warned Puigdemont that unless he backs down, Madrid will start proceedings to take direct control over the semi-autonomous region.
There are fears that moving to impose direct rule could further aggravate a crisis that has worried investors and added to the woes of a European Union already grappling with Brexit.
A top official in Puigdemont’s PDeCat party, Marta Pascal, told reporters that if Madrid triggers Article 155, then party members would ask him to declare independence outright.

Source: AFP
Story by: Anirudh.V