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In Dramatic Reversal, Catalan Leader Rejects Elections, Sets Stage For Showdown With Madrid

In the latest plot reversal in what become a nail-biting Spanish drama, in which the narrative changes by the hour, moments ago Catalonia president Puigdemont made a televised statement refuted earlier reports he had capitulated to Spanish demands, and said he rejects calls for snap elections. Saying there are "not sufficient guarantees" for elections to take place, Puigdemont said he needs to exhaust all options for solution, and said that he was ready to call election.

"My duty was to try", he said in a statement to reporters shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday quoted by The Spain Report. "My responsibility was to explore all of the options in my hand to the very end."

"No one will be able to say that I have not been ready to make sacrifices to guarantee dialogue."

"It is now the Catalan Parliament that will have to decide on the response to the application of Article 155", he added, in reference to the article of the Spanish Constitution that the central government will use—for the first time in the modern democratic period—to suspend home rule in a Spanish region.

Outside Catalan government headquarters in Barcelona, separatist supporters filled the square with chants of "independence" after Mr. Pugidemont made his announcement.

A session of the Catalan Parliament it due to begin at 6 p.m.

Puigdemont's latest decision - which may yet be reversed in this ongoing political whirlwind - is sure to infuriate Madrid, which earlier in the day said it was happy with the Catalan decision to call elections. It would also mean that Spain will shortly announce it is seizing control from the Catalan government, and could potentially arrest Puigdemont in prison, even though the local leaders has not formally declared independence.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, a session of the Spanish Senate commission responsible for the Article 155 process has begun. The Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has formally asked the commission to approve the measures the government has asked for.

A worst case scenario would be for Madrid to announce the confrontation between Madrid and Barcelona is escalatig further, with Spain clamping down on the region's autonomy, and leading to a far more chaotic outcome.

The IBEX is not happy with this latest reversal.