CATALUÑA CRISIS: Regional government and police chiefs sacked and election called

SPAIN’S Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has dissolved Cataluña’s parliament and called for an election on December 21 after the region finally declared independence.

Thousands had earlier celebrated the declaration of independence on the streets of Barcelona, Cataluña’s regional capital.

But the independence declaration has not only been rejected within Spain but by several European countries, including the UK, France and Germany, as well as the United States and Mexico.

There were pro-unity demonstrations in Barcelona too, with protesters waving Spanish flags and denouncing Catalan independence.

And a large pro-unity rally is expected in Madrid today (Saturday).

Speaking last night in a TV address Prime Minister Rajoy said central government departments in Madrid would take over functions from the regional government. 

Rajoy said Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet would be sacked, the parliament dissolved and elections called.

“[Mr Puigdemont] had the opportunity to return to legality and to call elections,” he said.

“It is what the majority of the Catalonian people asked for – but he didn’t want to do it. So the government of Spain is taking the necessary measures to return to legality.”

Rajoy said it was important to call fresh elections to ensure “nobody can act outside the law.”

Later Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido  announced the removal of Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez as chief of Catalonia’s autonomous Mossos police force.

Trapero was already under investigation accused of failing to help Spain’s Guardia Civil police tackle thousands of pro-independence protesters in Barcelona during the run-up to the illegal referendum on October 1.

The vote was marred by ugly violence as National Police and Guardia Civil intervened, but Catalan leaders said more than two million people turned out and that 92% wanted to break from Spain. But the turnout was estimated at just 42 per cent.

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