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Spain officially takes over Catalan, fires leaders

By
Allen Cone
Spain on Saturday took control of the regional government of Catalonia, firing the police chief and deposing the prime minister. Photo by Xavi Herrero/ UPI
Spain on Saturday took control of the regional government of Catalonia, firing the police chief and deposing the prime minister. Photo by Xavi Herrero/ UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Spain's central government officially took control of Catalonia on Saturday, one day after announcing the dissolution of the regional Parliament.

In an official state bulletin, Spain dismissed the leaders, handing control to Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria. Also, Spain's interior ministry took charge of Catalonia's police and fired senior police officials.

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On Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy removed Catalan's leader, Carles Puigdemont, and called snap local elections for Dec. 21. Earlier Friday, the Catalan Parliament voted to declare independence.

Puigdemont, during a televised address from an undisclosed location, called for "democratic opposition."

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"Let's move forward with the only winning attitude -- without violence, insults, in a very inclusive way, respecting opinions and symbols and protests by other people who are against what the parliamentary majority decided," he said.

"I ask you to have patience, perseverance and perspective. The best way to defend the point we have reached now is the democratic opposition to Article 155."

He was referring to the constitutional provision which allowed Madrid to impose direct rule.

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In Madrid, a large unity rally backing Spain's authority was taking place.

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Throughout the night Friday in Barcelona, the regional capital of Caalonia, demonstrations for and against independence were going on.

In an internal note, Mossos d'Esquadra's regional police force members were urged to act in a neutral manner.

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"Given that there is it is likely to be an increase in gatherings and rallies of citizens in all the territory and that there are people of different thoughts, we must remember that it is our responsibility to guarantee the security of all and help these to take place without incident," the memo said.

During a referendum on Oct. 1, about 90 percent voted in favor of independence although turnout was only 43 percent and anti-referendum residents boycotted.

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