Catalan leader: Madrid’s steps toward direct rule are ‘worst attacks’ since Franco’s dictatorship

Catalan leader: Madrid’s steps toward direct rule are ‘worst attacks’ since Franco’s dictatorship

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has slammed Madrid’s decision to impose direct rule on Barcelona as “the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”

Puigdemont announced that he had asked the regional parliament to hold a debate on the measures taken by Madrid and added that the people of Catalonia would never accept such a decision by the central Spanish government.

I ask the parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens’ sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy and act in consequence,” Puigdemont said in a televised speech.

Demo in Barcelona following govt’s decision to impose direct rule on Catalonia

Earlier, the head of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, said that the Catalan authorities were not going to take “a step back” in their pursuit of independence and were ready to defend Catalan sovereignty “now more than ever.”

She also accused the central government of carrying out “an authoritarian coup within the EU” and sharply criticized Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for what she called “great political irresponsibility.”

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 Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a press conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, October 21, 2017 © Juan Medina

Earlier, Rajoy said his government wants to dissolve the Catalan parliament and call a snap election to restore order in the region. He also said that the powers of the Catalan government would be temporarily transferred to Madrid, adding that the relevant proposal was already sent to the Senate for approval.

The snap election will take place in six months, the Prime Minister said. The measures taken by Madrid are expected to be approved now by Spain’s Upper House (the Senate) on October 27.

Madrid’s decision provoked a wave of outrage in the secessionist region as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the regional capital, Barcelona, to voice their discontent with the central government’s move.

Catalan politicians also slammed Madrid’s move. The former head of the regional government, Artur Mas, called the central government’s actions “political myopia” while Marta Pascal, a Catalonian MP from Puigdemont’s Catalan European Democratic Party denounced them as “barbarity” and a “shame to democracy.

Puigdemont had earlier threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an open declaration of independence from Spain.

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