Spain Has Taken Direct Control Of Catalonia, A Day After Its Parliament Voted For Independence
Disputed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has called for a "democratic opposition" to direct rule being imposed.
The deposed leader of Catalonia has urged people to peacefully resist the Spanish government imposing direct rule on the region.
In his first remarks since Madrid stripped the region of its autonomy for the first time in 40 years, Carles Puigdemont gave a televised address to call for "democratic opposition".
A state bulletin issued on Saturday confirmed the regional government had been taken over by Madrid, and the head of the local police force dismissed.
On Friday, the Catalan parliament voted in favour of a unilateral declaration of independence, which led Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy to dissolve the regional parliament, remove Catalan president Puigdemont from his post, and call snap elections.
Spanish senators in Madrid approved the decision to impose Article 155 by a margin of 214 in favour, 47 against, and a single abstention.
Only 45 minutes before, the regional parliament voted to leave Spain after weeks of uncertainty between Madrid and Barcelona. That move was backed 70 to 10, with two opposition members sitting out the vote, in the 135 seat chamber.
Shortly after the declaration of independence, Rajoy issued a brief statement: "I ask all Spaniards to stay calm. The state will restore legality in Catalonia."
By evening, Rajoy said he was dissolving the Catalan parliament and that local elections where would be held for 21 December.
Puigdemont tweeted to say: "Catalonia is & will be a land of freedom. In both difficult & celebration times. Now more than ever". He also urged citizens to defend the region with "peace, civility and dignity".
Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the government to use "all measures necessary" to restore order. The clause allows the Spanish capital to hire and fire Catalan politicians, emergency service leaders, and take control of the region's finances.
Rajoy told politicians in Madrid that the region needed direct rule in order to restore "law, democracy, and stability".
Prior to the vote, the PM called for Puigdemont to be removed from office, accusing him of dividing Spanish families, threatening stability, and causing businesses to suffer due to the uncertainty.
"The thing that Catalans need protecting from is not what they're calling Spanish imperialism, but a minority who, in an intolerant way, declare themselves the owners of Catalonia and consider as exclusive a history, culture and feelings that are the heritage of the community," Rajoy told the Spanish senate earlier.
Video shared on social media showed hundreds of people in Barcelona taking to the streets to celebrate the decision by parliament.
Speaking after the Catalan parliamentary decision, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted that "nothing changes" for the European Union.
"Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force," he continued.
The United States said "Catalonia was an integral part of Spain", and that they "supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united."
The British government said they also did not recognize the declaration of independence, according to the BBC. Also, in a statement on Twitter, the German government said it did not recognize the unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia’s regional Parliament.
Last month, thousands voted in a contested referendum asking for independence.
The regional government claimed that 90% of those who voted (estimated at 43% of the population) were in favour of independence – but Spain's constitutional court later ruled the vote illegal.