Catalonia crisis: Spanish prime minister wants region’s leaders removed
By Laura Smith-Spark and Claudia Rebaza, CNN
Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT) October 21, 2017
Rajoy urges removal of Catalan president
Rajoy urges removal of Catalan president 02:31
“Catalonia cannot accept this attack,” Catalonia’s president says
The region’s succession could have dire economic effects for Spain
Barcelona, Spain (CNN)The Spanish government aggressively moved to squash Catalonia’s growing independence movement Saturday when Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced plans to dissolve the regional government, remove elected leaders as soon as possible and hold new elections.
As nearly half a million people protested in Barcelona, Catalonia’s biggest city, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont denounced Rajoy’s decision and said, “The Catalan institutions and the people of Catalonia cannot accept this attack.”
He called for the regional parliament to discuss “the attempt to liquidate our self-government and our democracy, and act accordingly,” but Puigdemont stopped short of declaring regional independence, as he threatened to do earlier in the week.
Earlier in the day, Puigdemont joined the throngs, which police estimated at 450,000 people, that took to the streets after Rajoy announced his government would invoke rarely used constitutional powers to remove Catalonia’s leaders, including Puigdemont Demonstrators shouted, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” and “Rajoy, Rajoy, so you know we are leaving!”
The constitutional measures — intended to end Catalan leaders’ independence bid — fall under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution and would allow the national government to suspend the autonomy of the Catalan regional administration. Rajoy said the measure would be sent to the Spanish Senate within the next week. the move followed weeks of division triggered by a contested independence referendum October 1.
Nearly 7.5 million people live in Catalonia, an economic powerhouse in the northeast of Spain. Spain’s population is almost 49 million.