Catalonia: Spain's measures to impose direct rule will be revealed on Saturday and have cross-party backing, says Rajoy

Catalan region accuses Spain of 'impeding dialogue' and threatens to declare formal independence

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 20 October 2017 13:53
The Catalonia crisis explained in 60 seconds

The Spanish prime minister says measures to impose direct rule over Catalonia have cross-party support in Madrid, and will be revealed after an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday.

Mariano Rajoy made the announcement after the Catalan region’s leaders failed to meet a deadline to withdraw a declaration of independence.

Madrid is expected to trigger article 155 of the constitution, withdrawing Catalonia’s right to govern itself, in the ministers’ meeting this weekend.

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, wrote a letter to Mr Rajoy minutes before a deadline on Thursday morning, stating the Catalan parliament could vote on an official declaration of independence is Madrid did not agree to new talks.

It accused the Spanish government of continuing to “impede dialogue” and threatened to formally declare independence unless it stopped its “repression”.

Mr Rajoy’s office responded by saying the special Cabinet meeting would “approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards”.

Any imposing of direct rule would fall under article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution. It has never been used since democracy was introduced following the death of General Francisco Franco.

The Spanish government are portraying it as an undesired, yet necessary move to restore legality after Mr Puigdemont pushed ahead with a banned referendum on 1 October.

Spain's highest court this week confirmed the vote was illegal under the country's constitution.

Catalan officials say hundreds of people were injured in police violence on the day of the referendum, while Spanish authorities say hundreds of police officers were also hurt and the use of force was proportional to the resistance they met.

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