Spanish PM announces plans to sack Catalan leaders and hold new elections

SPANISH Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared that Catalan officials, including leader Carles Puigdemont, will be removed from office to restore order to the region.

The news was announced following a two-hour emergency Cabinet meeting held today (Saturday) in Madrid.

Rajoy also revealed that the central government plans to hold regional elections in Cataluña “as soon as normality is restored”.  

The emergency measures are the result of invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows the central government to impose direct rule on regional authorities if they breach the law.

This is the first time that the article has been invoked since the constitution was established in 1978.

Cabinet’s decision will not be implemented straightaway as the measures still require approval by the Senate, who will vote on the matter next week.

The announcement comes nearly three weeks after Catalans voted on whether the region should declare independence from Spain with 90 per cent of the turnout voting in favour, according to Catalan authorities.

Mr Puigdemont had ignored the government’s pleas to surrender his campaign, and refused to confirm whether or not the region had declared independence.

Rajoy claimed that the Catalan authorities’ actions were “contrary to the law and seeking confrontation”, and left him no choice but to impose direct rule on the region.  

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