Spain to take CONTROL of Catalonia within days as leader issues FINAL independence warning



SPAIN is preparing to take direct control of Catalonia this weekend after the region threatened to declare independence if crisis talks continue to stall.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has warned of his intention to hold a formal vote on independence in a letter to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

In the letter, the second this week, Puigdemont said the Catalan parliament will have no option but to hold the vote if Madrid "persists in impeding dialogue".

"If the central government persists in impeding dialogue and continues with repression, the Catalan Parliament can proceed – if it considers it appropriate – to vote on a formal declaration of independence," he wrote in the letter.

Last week Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence from Spain, but suspended it while more talks took place.

His declaration came after his administration held an independence referendum to separate Catalonia from Spain on 1 October.

Despite widespread clashes between Spanish police and voters, a majorty voted for the region to become an autonomous state.

But Rajoy accused Puigdemont of causing "deliberate confusion" by not giving a concrete "yes or no" answer on whether he had declared independence.

He threatened to take the "nuclear option" of imposing direct rule of the region, despite 90% of participants in the poll opting for independence.

Now Rajoy is to hold a Cabinet meeting on Saturday to trigger the process to take control of Catalonia's powers, an official in Madrid said.

Mr Rajoy needs to trigger Article 155 to suspend Catalan autonomy and call new elections.

He is expected to do so at the special cabinet meeting at the weekend after giving Puigdemont until 10am local time (9am UK time) on today to abandon his secession plans.

There are fears the move could spark mass civil unrest after hundreds were injured when violence marred the independence poll.

In a statement, Mr Rajoy said: "The Spanish government will continue with the procedures outlined in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in Catalonia's self-government."

But Puigdemont assured Rajoy that the declaration of independence, signed on October 10, is still "suspended" in his letter today.

"This suspension continues to be active. The decision to apply article 155 is the central government's, pending authorization from the Senate," Puigdemont said.

"Despite all of our effort and willingness for dialogue, for the only response to be the suspension of autonomy suggests (the PM) is not conscious of the problem and does not want to talk."