Spain appoints deputy premier to replace Catalan leader

Students wear Esteladas as they block a street during a gathering to protest against the imprisonment of leaders of two of the largest Catalan separatist organisations Catalan National Assembly's Jordi Sanchez and Omnium's Jord

Spain appoints deputy premier to replace Catalan leader

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the dissolution of the regional parliament and the removal of the Catalan leader, with an official state bulletin handing control of Catalonia to Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

The Spanish government moved last night to impose direct rule on Catalonia after a day of political chaos in Barcelona.

The Catalan parliament adopted a resolution declaring the region's independence from Spain in the form of a republic.

In one of the first moves, Spain's Interior Ministry published an order to demote Josep Lluis Trapero from his position as head of the regional Mossos d'Esquadra police in Catalonia.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ordered the dissolution of the Catalan regional parliament and called a new regional election for December 21. "We continue working normally". "Without violence, without insults, in an inclusive way, respecting people and symbols, opinions, and also respecting the protests of the Catalans who do not agree with what the parliamentary majority has decided".

It's not clear at all whether a new election would solve Spain's problems with separatists in Catalonia.

Fifty-five per cent of Catalan respondents opposed the declaration of independence, with 41% in favour. Behind him there were the Catalan and European Union flags, but not the one from Spain.

BARCELONA Officials in Europe are speaking out against Catalonia's declaration of independence.

The central government in Madrid replaced the former Catalan president on Saturday and appointed Spanish deputy prime minister as the new leader of the region. Some accused Catalonia's leaders of treason.

After the 1 October referendum, Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence but delayed implementation to allow talks with the Spanish government.

"The best way to defend what we have achieved to date is democratic opposition to the application of article 155", Carles Puigdemont said in a televised statement, referring to the constitutional article that gives Madrid the takeover powers, adding he and his team would keep working "to build a free country".

Catalonia had secured the ability to govern itself in many areas, including education, health and policing, since democracy returned to Spain following the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.

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