Spain’s government has stripped Catalonia of its autonomy and taken charge of its government.
The decision came into effect on October 28 after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence on October 27.
An official state bulletin dismissed Catalan leaders and handed the region’s control to Spain’s Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.
Earlier, Spain’s interior ministry took charge of Catalonia’s police after firing senior Catalan police officials.
On October 27, PM Mariano Rajoy announced the dissolution of the regional parliament and the removal of Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and called snap local elections.
Demonstrations for and against independence went on into the night.
More are expected today, with a rally “for the unity of Spain and the constitution” to be held in Madrid.
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The crisis began on October 1, when Catalan leaders held an independence referendum, defying a ruling by the Constitutional Court which had declared it illegal.
According to the Catalan government, of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favor of independence. Others boycotted the vote after the court ruling.
On October 27, the Catalan regional parliament voted to declare independence from Spain.
Soon after, the Spanish Senate granted Mariano Rajoy’s government the power to impose direct rule on Catalonia.
It did so on October 28 by publishing an official bulletin that dismissed Carles Puigdemont and all government members.
The announcement came hours after Spain’s government removed Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez as chief of Catalonia’s autonomous Mossos police force.
Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez was already under investigation for sedition, accused of failing to help Spain’s Guardia Civil police tackle thousands of pro-independence protesters in Barcelona during the run-up to the referendum.
Pere Soler i Campins, the Mossos director general, has also been dismissed.
Regional elections are scheduled for December 21.
Carles Puigdemont has urged supporters to “maintain the momentum” in a peaceful manner, but Spanish prosecutors say they will file charges of “rebellion” against him next week.
Separatists say the independence move means they no longer fall under Spanish jurisdiction.
However, Spain’s Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, while the EU, the US, the UK, Germany and France all expressed support for Spanish unity.