Catalan Parliament Declares Independence, PM Pledges to Restore ‘Rule of Law’

Rabat – Tensions between Spain and Catalonia continue to escalate, as the Catalan parliament declared independence from the country on Friday.Seventy members of parliament voted “yes” for independence, while 10 others voted “no.” Two other ballots were left blank.After Catalonia declared its independence this afternoon, Spain’s senate gave Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unprecedented powers to impose direct rule on the region. Rajoy took to his official Twitter account immediately after Catalonia’s independence move, asking Spaniards to be calm after the Catalonia’s move.“I ask for calm from all Spanish people. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia.”Pido tranquilidad a todos los españoles. El Estado de Derecho restaurará la legalidad en Cataluña. MR— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) October 27, 2017Spain is set to hold a special cabinet meeting at 6 p.m. local time to seize control of the region. Rajoy is expected to start dissolving the Catalan government by firing its president, Carles Puigdemont.On October 22, Rajoy revealed his plans to impose direct rule on the region. He also promised to fire elected leaders, including Puigdemont. After his announcement, over half a million Catalans took to Barcelona’s streets to protest the announced measures.Rajoy will strip Catalonia from its autonomy, as the senate has granted him exceptional powers to impose direct rule under Article 155 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution. Article 155 allows the federal government to implement necessary measure to ensure compliance from regional governments. This article is only voted on in the senate if a regional government is considered as seriously undermining the interests of Spain.Rajoy said in a speech before the vote that he had “no alternative” but to apply the article, as Puigdemont and his separatist cabinet had pursued an “illegal” and unilateral path that was “contrary to the normal behavior in any democratic country like ours.Last week, Catalonia’s president denounced Rajoy’s decision, saying that Catalonia would strongly refuse to accept direct rule under the Spanish government.Puigdemont described Rajoy’s plans as the “worst attacks against the people of Catalonia since General Franco’s dictatorship.” Puigdemont was alluding to a time during the Civil War (1936-1939) in which the military dictator Francisco Franco dissolved Catalonia’s autonomy for resisting his rule.Puigdemont also accused the Spanish government of attempting to “eliminate the Catalan self-government and its democracy.”In response, Rajoy claimed that the Spanish government “had to enforce Article 155.” He continued that “it was not our desire, nor our intention. It never was.”The whole affair started after thousands of Catalan people showed up to cast their vote on a referendum, which took place on October 10. The move renewed long-standing tensions between Madrid and the region. Spanish police intervened to stop the referendum, leaving several people injured

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