Spanish Senate offers Catalan leader Puigdemont chance to debate over Article 155

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-24 21:39:52|Editor: Song Lifang
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MADRID, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish Senate has offered Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont the chance to debate with them over the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would see him and his government sacked and the control of key Catalan institutions handed over to the central government.

The Senate is expected to approve the application of the article on Friday after it was passed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's cabinet Saturday last week. However, it has been mooted in recent days that Puigdemont could travel to Madrid in a bid to avert this happening.

Speaking to Spanish media, the deputy leader of the Senate, Pedro Sanz, said it would "be an honor to have the President of the Generalitat (Catalan government) here to be able to participate in the debate."

Sanz added that the Senate's role was "not to oblige the (Spanish) government to act, but to give permission for measures to be applied."

Meanwhile, Rajoy's People's Party commented that if he does go to the Senate, Puigdemont should do so on Thursday or Friday, saying they have been "generous" with the offer of two dates.

Shortly after Sanz's comments, the spokesman for the Catalan government, Jordi Turul, said that Puigdemont's idea "was to go to the Senate, but they are making it harder for us all of the time."

He said this in reference to the debate in the Senate over Article 155 which will start on Thursday and could continue until Friday, while the Catalan Parliament will also hold a session on Thursday in which Puigdemont may or may not make a unilateral declaration of independence.

It is also possible that Puigdemont could use that session to call regional elections in the hope of avoiding the application of Article 155.

This possibility has caused divisions between the ruling PP and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), with PSOE sources saying such a move would make it unnecessary to apply the article, while Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala insisted this was not the case and that what was needed was a "return to legality."

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo made comments in the Times newspaper that force would be used if necessary against protests which threatened public order in the Catalan region.

"No government wants any acts of violence but the government has to make sure that the law is obeyed and if there are people on the other side who do not want to obey the law, then, through the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan regional police force), we will have to restore the law," he said.

The Mossos are one of the Catalan institutions which would be put under central government control if and when Article 155 is applied.