Catalan crisis: Puigdemont under pressure over independence bid

This photo shows Catalan president Carles Puigdemont attending a regional government meeting at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona on October 10, 2017.Image copyright

Image caption

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is leading the drive for the region's independence

Pressure is rising on Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont over his regional government's drive for independence from Spain.

He had been due to make a statement to clarify his position, but the move has been suspended, officials said.

The Spanish government plans to strip the regional government and Mr Puigdemont of their powers.

Article 155 of the Spanish constitution lets Madrid take control of institutions, police and finances.

Mr Puigdemont declared independence after a referendum on 1 October, which was ruled illegal by Spain's constitutional court. But the Catalan leader immediately suspended implementation, calling for talks.

The Spanish Senate is set to vote on triggering Article 155 on Friday.

A much-anticipated statement from Mr Puigdemont was expected on Thursday. There has been speculation that he might suspend the drive for independence and call regional elections in a effort to avoid direct rule from Madrid.

But early on Thursday afternoon Catalan officials said the move had been suspended. They gave no details or explanations.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% who took part in the 1 October referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

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Media captionA Catalan government representative and a Spanish government minister fail to see eye to eye in a BBC interview