MARIANO Rajoy has given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont an eight-day ultimatum to drop his independence bid.
The Spanish Prime Minister challenged Puigdemont to withdraw his plan or Madrid will take direct rule.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch have called for an independent investigation into police action during the October 1 referendum, which saw 900 injured.
Puigdemont has until October 16 at 9am (CET) to drop his plan, but if he persists with the push for independence he will be given three more days to change his mind.
If no retraction is made Rajoy will trigger Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution and impose direct rule.
“The cabinet has agreed this morning to formally request the Catalan government to confirm whether it has declared the independence of Catalonia, regardless of the deliberate confusion created over its implementation,” Rajoy said.
Rajoy’s announcement came the day after Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, but delayed its implementation while calling for dialogue with Madrid.
But Rajoy’s response indicated the central government is not willing to meet with the Catalan separatists to discuss Spain’s worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981.
The escalating tension follows the October 1 referendum when 90% of 2.4 million Catalans voted for independence.
A Human Rights Watch spokesperson said cops used ‘excessive force’.
“The police may well have had the law on their side to enforce a court order but it didn’t give them the right to use violence against peaceful protesters,” said Kartik Raj, researcher for Western Europe.