Spain fires Catalonia’s government
Prime minister acts after area declares its independence
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Friday that Spain is firing the Catalan government as part of emergency measures the Senate approved after the region declared independence Friday.
Rajoy said he’s dissolving the Catalan Parliament and calling for a new regional election on Dec. 21. He spoke after a special Cabinet meeting to discuss what measures to take in the wake of the Catalan Parliament’s announcement secession.
The firing of regional leaders is likely to meet with fierce opposition in Catalonia, where thousands have been celebrating the independence declaration.
Separatist Catalan lawmakers in the regional Parliament celebrated earlier Friday as the vote was approved with 70 votes in favor of independence, 10 against and 2 blank. Most opposition lawmakers left the chamber in protest moments before the vote.
The Catalan motion called for the start of an independence process that includes drafting new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing ” with Spanish authorities to establish of cooperation.
The federal government in Madrid opposes the independence bid. Spain’s Constitutional Court declared illegal a referendum earlier this month in which the Catalan government said 90 percent of voters backed independence. Hundreds of people were injured in clashes with police as the referendum took place.
A spokesman with Spain’s prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press that the country’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for the politicians responsible for the independence vote. Under Spanish criminal law, rebellion can be punished with up to 25 years in prison.
The U.S. State Department said Friday that it supports Spain in its efforts to stop Catalonia’s independence bid.