Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stepped up pressure on Catalonia to halt its drive for independence, taking the first step in a process that could strip the region’s separatist government of its limited autonomy and impose direct control from Madrid.

Rajoy convened an emergency session of the cabinet on Wednesday, at which ministers agreed to issue a formal request to the Catalan government for confirmation of whether it had declared independence. Rajoy cited “deliberate confusion” sown by the regional administration in Barcelona the previous day.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s response to the request will determine what happens next, Rajoy said. “If Mr. Puigdemont makes clear his wish to respect the law and return institutions to normality, he would end a period of uncertainty, tension and rupture.”

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