Catalan independence: Spain pushes to remove leaders
Madrid will seek senate approval to take over the Catalonian government and hold early elections, the Spanish prime minister has said.
Mariano Rajoy was speaking on Saturday after a special cabinet meeting held in the wake of Catalonia’s efforts to unilaterally declare independence, the BBC reported.
He said the Spanish government did not want to invoke previously untested powers it held under article 155 of the constitution, but it had been forced to do so.
The government was not revoking Catalonia’s autonomy, Rajoy said, but the move will still be regarded as inflammatory by those in the region who want to break away from Spain.
The move, which takes the country into uncharted legal waters, was sparked by Catalonia’s banned independence referendum on 1 October. King Felipe VI said the crisis must be resolved “through legitimate democratic institutions. We do not want to give up that which we have built together.”
Autonomy is a highly sensitive issue in semi-autonomous Catalonia, which lost its powers under Spain’s military dictatorship. Home to 7.5 million people, the region fiercely defends its language and culture.
There are fears of unrest if Madrid seeks to impose direct rule of any kind, and the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, has said such a move could push regional politicians to declare unilateral independence.
Rajoy said on Friday that Spain had reached a “critical point” after weeks of political limbo and that his government had to act to stop the rule of law being “liquidated”.
The prime minister is likely to announce plans to take control of Catalonia’s 16,000-strong police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, whose leader, Josep Lluis Trapero, could face up to 15 years in jail on sedition charges for failing to contain separatist protests before the referendum.
Madrid could also seek to force new elections – its preferred solution to Spain’s most protracted political crisis since its return to democracy in 1977 – as early as January.
Rajoy is due to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon to announce his plans, which must pass through the Senate where his conservative People’s party holds a majority. That process would take about a week.
As tensions remain high, independence supporters are expected to rally in Barcelona on Saturday night to call for the release of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez.
The leaders of two powerful grassroots separatist groups have been in jail since Monday, pending investigation into sedition charges.
Puigdemont has said he has a mandate to declare independence after the referendum, which his administration says resulted in a 90% yes vote. Turnout for the poll, however, was given as 43%, with many Catalans who back unity having stayed away.
Accounting for about a fifth of Spain’s economic output, Catalonia is evenly split over whether to break away from Spain, according to opinion polls. Supporters say the region does too much to prop up the rest of the national economy and would thrive if it went its own way, but opponents say Catalonia is stronger as part of Spain and that a split would spell economic and political disaster.
Nearly 1,200 companies have shifted their legal headquarters to other parts of Spain since the referendum, hoping to minimise instability.
Related news releases
- 18.06.2018Candidate for Georgian premiership says number of ministries will decrease
- 18.06.2018EU extends sanctions against Russia for a year over Crimea
- 17.06.2018Turkey set to create own Antarctic research station next year — president
- 17.06.2018Protesters demand justice for Grenfell in London
- 17.06.2018OPEC+ to discuss production increase of 1.5 mln barrels only for Q3 — Russian minister
- 17.06.20186 arrested, 200 kg narcotics seized by Albanian police
- 16.06.2018Erdogan vows improved animal protection laws post polls
- 16.06.2018US soldier gets decked in face in drunken fistfight with Azerbaijanis in Lithuania
- 16.06.2018France's Macron looks for common ground with Italy on immigration debate
- 16.06.2018Turkish, Qatari leaders discuss Palestine over phone
- 15.06.2018Greece, Macedonia to sign name change accord June 17: Greek ministry
- 15.06.2018Police chief of Georgia’s Adjara region murdered
- 15.06.2018Turkish PM says state of emergency to be lifted
- 14.06.2018Turkish PM says armed attackers in southeastern Turkey are PKK supporters
- 14.06.2018France is ready to accept migrants from Aquarius Ship amid standoff with Italy - UPDATED
- 14.06.2018Armed attack on campaigning AK Party members in SE Turkey leaves 3 dead, 8 injured - UPDATED
- 14.06.2018Mamuka Bakhtadze nominated as Georgian PM
- 14.06.2018Turkish jets ‘neutralize’ 3 PKK terrorists in N. Iraq
- 13.06.2018Macedonia president says won't approve name deal with Greece
- 13.06.2018Georgian PM resigns
- 13.06.2018Mogherini: EU to present proposals on security following Salisbury incident
- 13.06.2018Germany's Merkel calls for common EU refugee policy
- 13.06.2018Tesla cuts 9 percent of workforce in search for profit
- 12.06.2018Man arrested after hostage incident in Paris - UPDATED
- 12.06.2018Turkish president: "We didn’t buy S-400 to keep them in store, will use if needed"
- 12.06.2018Greece, Macedonia resolving long-standing name row
- 12.06.2018Armed man holed up with hostages in Paris, police deployed to the scene
- 12.06.2018IMF will remain engaged in Greece, Lagarde says
- 10.06.2018Erdogan slams Austria for shutting mosques
- 09.06.2018Russia’s return to G7 requires implementation of Minsk Agreements — Merkel
- 09.06.2018Merkel says differences on trade remain despite joint G7 communique
- 09.06.2018Arab leaders to hold meeting with King Abdullah over Jordan crisis
- 09.06.2018Bomb kills one and wounds 14 in Iraq's Kirkuk
- 09.06.2018UK: Boris Johnson's Brexit remarks cause controversy
- 08.06.2018Three tourists die in Georgia rafting accident
- 08.06.2018Russian, US military leaders to meet in Helsinki
- 08.06.2018Vienna to host possible meeting between Putin and Trump
- 08.06.2018Erdogan hints at lifting state of emergency after polls
- 08.06.2018NATO, EU welcome Afghanistan’s ceasefire announcement
- 08.06.2018IAEA might resume inspections in North Korea after political solution found — diplomat
- 21.10.2017Georgian CEC: Police haven’t gone into polling stations in Marneuli - UPDATED
- 21.10.2017Georgian opposition accuses government of creating tension in Marneuli
- 21.10.2017Billionaire candidate wins Czech election
- 21.10.2017Georgian parliamentary committee chairman: Attempts being made to cause unrest in Marneuli
- 21.10.2017Georgia elections: High voter turnout in Azerbaijani-populated region as of 12:00 AM
- 21.10.2017Georgia’s interior minister says Marneuli armed incident ‘has nothing to do with politics’