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Spain's government has stripped Catalonia of its 'autonomous powers'

The move had been widely expected in the wake of Catalonia’s recent disputed vote for independence.

BELGIUM-BRUSSELS-EU-SUMMIT-SECOND DAY Mariano Rajoy Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT has taken control of Catalonia back from the country’s north-eastern state.

The move, announced by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a live statement this afternoon, was widely expected, with the announcement following a meeting of the country’s cabinet this morning.

In invoking article 155 of the Spanish constitution, Rajoy said he was not ending self-rule in Catalonia, nor was he ending the region’s autonomy.

“We are only dismissing those who have acted outside the law and outside democracy,” he said.

We are only trying to restore legality for the Catalan people.

The move will not see the Catalan parliament dissolved, however. Rajoy did confirm that new elections “would have to be held, and within six months” in Catalonia.

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Catalonia voted for independence from the Spanish state in a massively controversial referendum on 1 October, with the very legality of the vote disputed by the central government.

The deployment of the Spanish police to try and close the polls and seize ballots lead to widespread condemnation after the situation descended into violence and acrimony.

Rajoy said that invoking article 155 was “not our wish or our intention, and it is only applied in exceptional circumstances”.

It has never been necessary previously as we always returned to a legal situation. This time the situation is different.
No democracy can accept this very obvious flouting of the law.

He added that if Catalan independence were to be confirmed, the region would have to become a new country which would exist outside the EU “with extra tariffs applied”.

The move spells more bad news for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who has found himself assailed from all sides in the wake of the referendum, which he said at the time had given Catalonia the right to claim independence.

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