Spain takes over Catalonia

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's allies have filed a motion in the region's parliament to declare independence from SpainMore

Tens of thousands celebrated in Barcelona and other Catalan cities after Friday's independence declaration, which analysts say the region has no legal power to execute.

Minutes later the Spanish Senate enacted Article 155 of the constitution, which gives Madrid powers to take direct control of Catalonia, dismiss separatist leaders and trigger regional elections.

He ignored warnings by the Madrid government to cancel the move, prompting Mr Rajoy to threaten to remove Catalan leaders and impose direct rule.

He said it was now up to the Catalan parliament to decide the next move, opening the door to a unilateral declaration of independence.

The central government in Madrid has ordered that fresh elections for the regional parliament of Catalonia should take place in December.

"They have led 2 million Catalans to believe in independence, so it's a big problem to tell them now that it's actually hard to build a state when Spain has the upper hand of the law on its side", Dowling said.

"I'm quite sure that if Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise this democratic opposition", he said, quoted by Reuters.

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

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. Polls suggest pro-independence parties would likely maintain their slim advantage in parliamentary seats but wouldn't get more than 50 percent of the vote.

The Spanish government on Saturday handed temporary control of Catalonia to Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria after it stripped the region of its autonomy, the media reported.

Additionally, Catalonia's regional government institutions will be linked to ministries of the central government.

And Spain's interior ministry took charge of Catalonia's police after firing senior Catalan police officials.

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.

Catalonia's regional police agency has issued a statement saying it is operating as normal even though its chief has been fired by Madrid as Spain's central government tries to halt the region's independence movement.

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