Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Spain demands ouster of Catalonia's rulers

Spain moves to suspend Catalan autonomy Catalonia's Puigdemont among 450000 in pro-independence rally in Barcelona
Lori Graves | 22 October, 2017, 02:08

The move is aimed at blocking the independence movement that has gained pace since a disputed October 1 referendum on separating Catalonia from Spain.

Meanwhile, King Felipe has said Catalonia "is and will remain an essential part of 21st century Spain".

FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu says the famed soccer club is backing the leaders of Catalonia in response to the Spanish government's decision to take over the regional government.

Puigdemont says he has a mandate to declare independence after the referendum, which his administration says resulted in a 90 percent Yes vote.

Puigdemont's threat to declare a breakaway state "has been unilateral, contrary to the law, and seeking confrontation", said Rajoy, announcing measures that could give the central government direct control over Catalonia's police force and allow for its public media chiefs to be replaced.

Basque nationalists and the far-left Podemos party were among those in Madrid opposing the government's move. "A serious attack on the rights and freedoms of everyone". She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

Elections for the semi-autonomous region must be called within six months, he added, with Spain's national ministries to take over the jobs of Puigdemont and his team in the meantime.

In a YouTube video posted by an account linked to Anonymous, the group announced actions that would be rolled out on Saturday as part of an "Operation Free Catalonia".

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The move by the prime minister was the worst attack on the Catalan people since the late Spanish leader General Franco abolished Catalonia's regional government in 1939, Mr Puigdemont claimed.

The Spanish government after an emergency meeting on Saturday will forward to the President of the Senate PIO Garcia Escudero specific proposals.

The measures could include stripping some or all of the top Catalan officials of their authority and laying out a roadmap to an early regional election for as early as January. In a sign of the deeply entrenched divisions between Madrid and the restive region, he signalled to local politicians that they should press ahead with independence.

The prestigious prize-giving ceremony was attended by European leaders, in so doing implicitly pledging their support for Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's position on unite Spain and rejecting the Catalan bid for independence.

Rajoy said he is using Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in order to "restore normalcy" in the country, which faces its most grave institutional crisis in decades with Catalonia's independence movement.

Rajoy's ruling Popular Party has an absolute majority in the chamber and is expected to receive wide support from opposition senators for measures to protect Spanish unity. "It is my wish to call an election as soon as normality is restored".

The decision to press for the abolition of the Catalan leadership, impose direct rule and push for elections within six months followed a special cabinet meeting on Saturday morning, nearly three weeks after the controversial independence referendum took place. The application of articles then must be approved by the Senate.

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