Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Spanish PM aims to take over Catalan govt; residents aghast

Published:Sunday | October 22, 2017 | 12:14 AM
Catalan deputy president Oriol Junqueras, left, President Carles Puigdemont, centre and Carme Forcadell, speaker of the house in the Catalan parliament hold a sign reading 'Freedom for the two Jordis' during a protest against the National Court's decision to imprison civil society leaders, in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday.



 Spain announced an unprecedented plan yesterday to sack Catalonia's separatist leaders, install its own people in their place and call a new local election, using previously untapped constitutional powers to take control of the prosperous region that is threatening to secede.

Catalonia's president responded by making a veiled independence threat, telling lawmakers to come up with a plan to counter Spain's "attempt to wipe out self-government."

Even moderate Catalans were aghast at the scope of the move, greeting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's announcement with banging pots and honking cars in the streets of Barcelona, the regional capital.

In a televised address late yesterday, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont called Rajoy's plans to replace him and his cabinet an "attempt to humiliate" Catalonia and an "attack on democracy."

He called on the regional parliament to "debate and decide on the attempt to wipe out our self-government and our democracy, and act accordingly."

Puigdemont called Rajoy's move "the worst attack" on Catalan people and institutions since Gen. Francisco Franco's abolishment of Catalonia's regional government in 1939.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who opposes independence without a valid referendum, called Rajoy's measures "a serious attack" on self-government in Catalonia. Others went further. Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell accused Spain's central authorities of carrying out a coup.