Madrid - Spain's government rejected an offer of a fresh round of talks with separatist leaders in the country's north-eastern Catalonia region late Wednesday, amid continued uncertainty in the wake of last week's disputed referendum on independence.
"The government will not negotiate over any illegal acts, nor will it be blackmailed," read an official statement released by the central government in Madrid.
Referring directly to Catalonia's regional leader, Carlos Puigdemont, who backs the separatist movement, the statement pointed to the serious damage already inflicted by the independence movement and demanded that separatist leaders meet with all parties in the Catalan regional government.
Region's independence would become a reality
Separatist leaders in Catalonia have been accused of attempting to exclude unionist parties from the proceedings.
Earlier Wednesday, Puigdemont had called on the Spanish government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, to meet for new negotiations. However, in a television interview in Barcelona, the 54-year-old Catalan leader stressed that the region's independence would become a reality.
"My government will not budge a millimetre from its commitment," said Puigdemont.
Credit watch negative
In a report published Wednesday evening, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's stated that the region of Catalonia had been given the status of "credit watch negative," and stated that the region could experience major difficulties financing itself in the short term should it actually become independent.
The ruling coalition in Catalonia's regional government in Barcelona will convene a plenary session on Monday, in which independence could be declared unilaterally. In a controversial referendum on Sunday, a clear majority of voted in favour of Catalonia's independence from Spain.
The vote took place despite being prohibited by Spain's Constitutional Court and despite Madrid's express condemnation. Voter turnout in the referendum was 42 per cent, in large part because most of those opposed to independence did not participate.
According to the regional government, nearly 900 people were injured as police tried to prevent the vote.