Spain wants clarity over Catalonia's independence

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Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to do everything in his power to prevent Catalan secession following a banned referendum in the region, which remains deeply divided over independence.

Catalan officials say the final numbers show 90 percent of votes in favor of independence and regional President Carles Puigdemont proclaimed a victory.

He demanded that the regional government clarify whether it now considered itself independent following a speech by Puigdemont on Tuesday night during which he said that he would proceed with the secession but would suspend it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Invoking Article 155 to ease Spain's worst political crisis in four decades would make prospects of a negotiated solution even more remote.

World leaders are watching closely and uncertainty over the fate of the region of 7.5 million people has damaged business confidence, with several listed firms already moving their legal headquarters to Madrid.

Madrid responded angrily to Puigdemont's speech to Catalonia's parliament, saying his government could not act on the results of the referendum.

Rajoy said "It is duty of Catalan leaders to ensure constitutional normality", and rejected any mediation effort.

France, which borders Catalonia, said today that it would not recognise a unilateral independence declaration. The leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Pedro Sanchez, backed Rajoy's demand for clarification in order to "get out of the swamp".

"(Puigdemont's) first reaction has been to insist on establishing a "bilateral dialogue" with Spain with "no prior conditions"; backpedalling on independence would only lead to an even bigger disappointment within the secessionist camp", he said in a note Wednesday.

Catalonia is once again interested in holding talks, because we strongly believe that present conflict can be resolved, Puigdemont said, after regretting that both in the past and in the present they will not find out interlocutors to their sovereign claims.

Catalonia's bid for independence has raised concerns about the stability of the European Union with Brussels urging "full respect of the Spanish constitutional order".

"Consequently, Morocco does not recognise this unilateral process which runs against the worldwide legality", it added.

Crowds of thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Barcelona yesterday ahead of Puigdemont's speech, waving Catalan flags and banners and screaming "democracy" in the hope of witnessing history in the making.

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