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Updated: Catalonia reportedly to declare independence if autonomy is suspended

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Updated: Catalonia reportedly to declare independence if autonomy is suspended

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told his party that he would formally declare independence if Madrid begins the process of suspending Catalonia's autonomy on Oct. 19, Reuters reported, citing a source from the regional government.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had given the Catalan government until that date to drop its independence bid. He could invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution to impose direct rule on Catalonia, a process that could take between three and five days, the report said.

Agence France-Presse earlier reported that Spain might not suspend Catalonia's autonomy if Puigdemont agrees to call for fresh elections, which "could be considered a return to legality," according to a government source.

Pedro Sanchez, Spain's opposition Socialist leader, who is working with the government on the Catalan issue, also said that restoring legality and moving the elections forward was the "only possible path" for Puigdemont, who had proposed a two-month period of talks with Madrid in a bid to seek a solution.

According to Reuters, Spanish daily La Vanguardia reported that Puigdemont was mulling a declaration of independence and considering constituent elections for Catalonia. However, Catalan foreign affairs chief Raul Romeva said that elections were "not on the table."