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Spain sacks Catalan government after independence declaration

(CGTN)    09:10, October 28, 2017


The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago.

A new regional election will be held in Catalonia on Dec. 21, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the measures after a special cabinet meeting called at his residence in the Palacio de la Moncloa to decide how to apply Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

As well as removing Carles Puigdemont as head of the autonomous region, he also fired its police chief and said central government ministries would take over the Catalan administration.

Reading a statement in an appearance which did not allow questions from the press, Rajoy said: “Spain is living through a sad day... we believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf.”

As he spoke, thousands of independence supporters packed the Sant Jaume Square in front of the Catalan regional headquarters in Barcelona, their earlier joyful mood somewhat dampened by Rajoy’s actions.

In a stunning show of defiance of Madrid, the Catalan parliament had voted in the afternoon to make a unilateral declaration of independence.

Despite the emotions and celebrations inside and outside the building, it was a futile gesture as shortly afterward the Spanish Senate in Madrid approved the imposition of direct rule.

Several European countries, including France and Germany, and the UK also rejected the independence declaration and said they supported Rajoy’s efforts to preserve Spain’s unity.

Britain will not recognize the Catalan parliament's declaration of independence, a spokesperson for the country's prime minister said Friday.

"It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts. We continue to want to see the rule of law upheld, the Spanish constitution respected, and Spanish unity preserved," the spokesperson added.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said Rajoy was his only interlocutor in Spain, reiterating Paris' full support to the Spanish government after the Catalonian region unilaterally declared independence from Madrid.

In a separate statement, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France "won't recognize the declaration of independence that the Catalan parliament has adopted."

Germany would not recognize the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia, the federal government spokesperson Stephen Seibert also said Friday.

Seibert said on his Twitter account that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Spain are inviolable," adding that Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence violates these protected principles.

The crisis has now reached a new and possibly dangerous level as independence supporters have called for a campaign of disobedience. Immediately after news of the vote, Spanish shares and bonds were sold off, reflecting business concern over the turmoil.


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