Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Saturday announced plans to fire Catalonia’s president and his entire government under special powers available to the government under Spain’s constitution.
Speaking after a special cabinet meeting to decide on which measures to take under Article 155 to bock the Catalan government’s attempts to secede from Spain, Rajoy said the objective was to hold elections in the region within six months in order to recover legality and the normal functioning of the country’s institutions, reports The Telegraph.
The Spain PM said he had tried to avoid such drastic measures, but he had been given no choice “because no government of any democratic country can accept that the law is ignored, violated and changed by imposition”.
The government will send its request to trigger Article 155 to the Senate, which is expected to hold a vote on the plan on Friday.
Mariano Rajoy said he has the support of the main opposition socialists, as well as that of Ciudadanos, Spain’s fourth-largest party.
Never previously used since the constitution was drawn up in 1978, the broadly worded Article 155 allows Spain’s government to use the “necessary measures” to bring a regional authority back into the bounds of legality by taking over its self-rule powers.
Before deciding to use Article 155, Rajoy asked Puigdemont if he had declared the region’s independence from Spain.
Puigdemont, who said before the Catalan parliament that he was “suspending” a mandate for independence drawn from a disputed referendum on October 1, failed to give an unequivocal reply.
The Catalan leader has repeatedly asked the Spanish government to enter negotiations on how the region could become sovereign. Puigdemont threatened to present a formal declaration of independence to Catalonia’s parliament if Rajoy applied Article 155.
Shortly after the cabinet meeting began at Rajoy’s prime-ministerial residence in Madrid Saturday morning, Puigdemont arrived at the Catalan government’s headquarters in Barcelona to follow developments.
A large demonstration by supporters of independence has been called in Barcelona in the afternoon to protest the remanding in custody of two Catalan activists accused of sedition.