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MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced Friday he had dissolved the Catalan parliament and called regional elections for December 21 under sweeping powers approved by the Senate to stop a secessionist movement in Catalonia.
Rajoy said he had also formally removed Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive from office as part of measures to “restore normality” after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence earlier on Friday.
“We Spaniards are living through a sad day in which a lack of reason prevailed upon the law and demolished democracy in Catalonia,” the prime minister added in a televised address.
The situation is “heartbreaking, sad and distressing,” Rajoy said.
Other measures adopted by the government include the dismissal of the director of the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, as well as Catalan government representatives in Madrid and Brussels.
Spain’s central government will also close Catalan government “representations” around the world, except the one in Brussels.
“These are the first steps we are taking to prevent those who up until now were in charge of the Catalan government from continuing their escalation of disobedience,” Rajoy said.
The Spanish Senate earlier gave Rajoy’s government sweeping powers to impose direct rule on the wealthy, semi-autonomous region to quash its independence drive.
This followed a vote by 70 lawmakers out of 135 in the regional parliament to declare Catalonia “a republic in the form of an independent and sovereign state”.