Spain to dismiss Catalonia's government, call elections

Protesters supporting Catalan independence take to the streets in Barcelona

Protesters supporting Catalan independence take to the streets in Barcelona

Bartomeu said Saturday that "the fact that people have been imprisoned for their political ideas is unacceptable in the 21st century".

It will be the first time in Spain's four decades of democracy that Madrid has invoked the constitutional right to take control of a region and rule it directly from Madrid.

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.

The entire regional government of Catalonia should be dismissed and new elections should be held there within six months, the Spanish government says.

The government's next steps include requesting authorisation from the senate to temporarily dissolve the roles of Catalonia's president, vice president and the advisers of the Catalan government.

Mr Rajoy said he was concerned about the financial impact if Catalonia broke away, stressing the latest figures on the economy were "worrying".

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who opposes independence without a valid referendum, called Rajoy's measures "a serious attack" on self-government in Catalonia.

Even moderate Catalans were aghast at the scope of the move, and the announcement was met with banging pots and honking cars in the streets of Barcelona.

Officials in Catalonia says regional leader Carles Puigdemont plans to join an afternoon protest before delivering a speech in response to the Spanish government's decision to take over the regional cabinet's functions.

Basque nationalists and the far-left Podemos party were among those in Madrid opposing the government's move.

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In a press conference, Spanish Prime Minister confirmed it was initiating Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which means it can take control of Catalonia, illustrating its determination to derail the independence movement led by separatist politicians in the prosperous industrial region.

Independence supporters in Barcelona have been gathering for a rally urging the release of two influential separatist activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who are being held on sedition charges.

His proposals, under the never-used-before article 155 of the constitution, will nevertheless put an end to Catalonia's home rule prerogative, and mark an escalation of Spain's biggest political crisis since a failed coup d'etat in 1981.

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

The goal is 'the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy, ' the prime minister said Friday.

The article allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.

Opposition parties have agreed to support him in revoking Catalonia's autonomy. "It is my wish to call an election as soon as normality is restored".

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.

The Spanish government's proposed measures still have to be approved by the Senate.

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