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Catalan Leader Rejects Spain’s Move To Seize Regional Government

People wave Catalan separatist flags during a demonstration organised by Catalan pro-independence movements ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and Omnium Cutural, following the imprisonment of their two leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, in Barcelona, Spain, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo FuentesPeople wave Catalan separatist flags during a demonstration organised by Catalan pro-independence movements ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and Omnium Cutural, following the imprisonment of their two leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, in Barcelona, Spain, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont denounced Saturday night the Spanish plan to seize control of Catalonia’s semi-autonomous regional government, an unprecedented step that has escalated what was already the country’s worst political crisis in decades.

Speaking from the Catalan government palace, Puigdemont called the potential imposition of direct rule the worst attack on Catalonia’s institutions since the Franco dictatorship.

“The Catalan institutions cannot accept this attack,” he said. “It’s incompatible with all democratic attitude and the rule of law.”

Earlier Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would invoke Article 155 of the national constitution, which gives the central government the power to dissolve that Catalan regional government and seize control of its ministries. The Spanish senate, which must approve the application of Article 155, is expected to vote on the measure Friday.

Following Rajoy’s pronoucement, Puigdemont said called for a session in the Catalan parliament to formulate a response.

“I ask the parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens’ sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy and act in consequence,” he said, according to Sky News.

About 2 million Catalonians voted for independence in an Oct. 1 referendum deemed illegal by the Spanish government. More than 90 percent of voters favored independence over remaining part of Spain, but less than half of eligible Catalonians voted in the plebiscite.

Rajoy’s government and opposition parties have united against the Catalan independence movement, while pro-separatist groups have led millions of Catalonians into the streets to protest Madrid’s dismissal of the referendum. After Rajoy announced his intention to invoke Article 155, hundreds of thousands of separatists led by Puigdemont again gathered in Barcelona for a mass demonstration against Madrid.

The Catalan parliament is expected to decide Monday if it will hold a vote to officially proclaim the republic of Catalonia, according to Reuters.

Madrid says that Puigdemont has broken the law several times in the push for independence. In a statement released Saturday, the central government said Article 155 measures are necessary to “restore order” after Catalonia’s “flagrant, obstinate and deliberate noncompliance” with its constitutional obligations.

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