Catalan crisis: PM Rajoy demands direct rule

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on the country’s representatives to approve direct rule over Catalonia.

In a speech to the Spanish senate in Madrid, Rajoy said he wanted to dismiss Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont along with his vice-president and all regional ministers.

He accused the Catalan government of fracturing Spanish society and said the exceptional measures were needed to maintain “law, democracy and stability” in Catalonia in the wake of of disputed independence referendum last month.

Article 155 of the Spanish constitution empowers the government in Madrid to take direct control of a region’s finances, police, and public media to maintain stability in case of a crisis.

The speech was met with popular applause from senators of Rajoy’s Partido Popular, and the senate is expected to back the measures when it comes to a vote at approximately 16:30 local time (15:30 BST). The autonomous Catalan parliament could respond by unilaterally declaring independence from Spain, but both elected bodies have said they would allow further debate on Saturday.

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