Spain's central government teams up with opposition to overthrow Catalan government

Spain moves to suspend Catalan autonomy

After a cabinet meeting Rajoy said he wants the country's Senate to allow central ministers to take over functions from all the members of the Catalan government, including control over the regional police, finances and the public media.

"They've trampled on our rights and our ideas as Catalans", she told AFP, adding: "They can destroy everything they want but we'll keep on fighting".

The Spanish government is activating a previously untapped constitutional article to take control of the Catalonia region in a bid to stop a rebellion from separatist politicians.

In a televised announcement, Carles Puigdemont said Madrid was failing to respect the rule of law after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would move to dismiss Catalonia's separatist executive, take control of regional ministries and call elections.

"Spain needs to face up to an unacceptable secession attempt on its national territory, which it will resolve using legitimate democratic institutions, respecting our constitution, adhering to the values and principles of the parliamentary democracy in which we have lived for 39 years", Felipe said.

Catalonia's administration now runs its own policing, education and healthcare.

Speaking at an European Union summit in Brussels on Friday, the Spanish Prime Minister said a "critical point" had been reached and that his government had to act to stop the rule of law being "liquidated".

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Autonomy is a hugely sensitive issue in semi-autonomous Catalonia, which saw its powers taken away under Spain's military dictatorship.

He tweeted: "Today more than ever, let's defend democracy and civil and political rights". (Picture: Lola Bou/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) The measures must now pass through the Senate - a process that will take about a week - but Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) holds a majority there and his efforts to prevent a break-up of Spain have the backing of other major parties.

Meanwhile, King Felipe has said Catalonia "is and will remain an essential part of 21st century Spain".

Regional authorities said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for independence.

The move is aimed at blocking the independence movement that has gained pace since a disputed October 1 referendum on separating Catalonia from Spain.

The opposition announced that it supports this package of extraordinary measures that will allow the central government to directly rule over Catalonia. Spain has the euro zone's fourth-largest economy and Catalonia accounts for a fifth of it.

Madrid this week cut its national growth forecast for next year from 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent, saying the standoff was creating uncertainty.

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