x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Catalonia crisis: Spanish PM Rajoy dissolves Catalan government following independence declaration

Mr Rajoy has called for a snap election set to take place on December 21

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy delivers a statement after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in Madrid. Susana Vera/ Reuters
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy delivers a statement after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in Madrid. Susana Vera/ Reuters

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will dissolve Catalan’s government, after the region’s devolved parliament declared independence from the rest of the country on Friday.

In a speech after an emergency meeting with Spain’s central government, Mr Rajoy called for a snap election to take place in Catalonia, set for December 21.

"We have decided to sack the Catalan government... central government will assume the powers of the Catalonian administration," he said during a televised address to the nation.

"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," Mr Rajoy added.

The prime minister also said that the Catalan police chief would be fired.

The constitutional crisis began at the beginning of this month when Catalonia held an independence referendum, which was not supported by Madrid.

Just over 40 per cent of those voted who were eligible to vote, with 90 per cent in favour of independence.

_____________

Read more:

Catalan votes for independence as Madrid approves direct rule

Catalonia faces Madrid rule after leader refuses to call election

_____________

The Catalan parliament on Friday voted 70-10 in a ballot boycotted by opposition MPs in favour of transferring legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia.

The vote count was eagerly watched by crowds outside the parliament building in Barcelona, who cheered when the result was announced.

Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont has called for supporters to "maintain the momentum" peacefully.

Shortly after the vote, Madrid's Senate approved the imposition of direct rule on Catalonia. The government maintains that the process carried out in Catalonia is illegal and unconstitutional.

On Friday morning Mr Rajoy successfully defended in the Senate the reasons for the invocation of Article 155 of the Constitution in Catalonia, which will see the region’s powers of self-government curtailed.

Speaking earlier in the Senate, the Spanish Prime Minister called for all Spaniards to remain calm, promising to "restore legality" to Catalonia.

The secession bid has won little support from western powers. The United States, Britain, France and Germany have all said they do not recognise the independence declaration, instead choosing to support Spain’s national government.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU "doesn't need any more cracks, more splits". He was backed by European Council President Donald Tusk who said "nothing changes" for the EU.