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> The clock is ticking for Catalonia. Spain says it will take control of the autonomous region as soon as Thursday, unless Catalan leaders drop their drive for independence. Last week, leader Carles Puigdemont made a symbolic declaration of independence then suspended it seconds later and called for talks.
Madrid gave him until Monday morning to answer the question, well, did you or didn't you? Reuters bureau chief Julien Toyer is in Madrid.>> The government wanted a simple yes or no. Have you declared the independence, yes or no? And what the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont answered was a three page letter asking for dialogue, telling Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, let's meet over the next two months.
Let's have a one-to-one dialogue and let's start resolving this situation.>> Catalonia's regional government says 90% of voters backed breaking away from Spain in a referendum two weeks ago. But most of those against stayed away, so turnout was low. It plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades.
Spain had ruled the vote illegal. Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Tropero appearing before Spain's high court Monday for questioning over whether his forces deliberately failed to enforce that ban. Under Spain's constitution, a declaration of independence could trigger article 155, which allows direct rule over any of the 17 autonomous communities if they break the law.
>> Of course, there is a lot of room for interpretation. In Madrid, there's been a sort of government belief it is a blank check to actually sack the government, call for regional election, take over the regional finances and the police, and have a direct rule in Catalonia. But this morning, the Catalonian interior chief said, well, actually, this article does not allow for Madrid to sack my government, to sack the government I'm a member of.
So there might be, over the next few days, a lot of interpretation on what Madrid can or cannot do.>> With neither side playing to the other's rules, the confrontation between Madrid and Spain's richest region looks likely to drag on and drag down the economy with it.