Catalonia’s leaders said on Saturday they would not accept direct rule imposed on the region by the Spanish government. Pascale Davies reports.
Pro-independence Catalans standing by their leaders. After Spain's Prime Minister announced on Saturday (October 22) he would use constitutional powers to fire the regional government and force a new election. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says the region will not accept Madrid's plans for direct rule. (SOUNDBITE) (Catalan) CATALAN PRESIDENT CARLES PUIGDEMONT, SAYING: "The Spanish Government, with the support of the Socialist Party and Citizens party, has undertaken the worst attack on the institutions and people of Catalonia since the decrees of the military dictator Francisco Franco abolishing the Generalitat of Catalonia." It's the first time since Spain's return to democracy that the central government has used its powers to seize control of a regional administration. But Rajoy cannot impose direct rule until Spain's upper house of parliament authorizes it. The decision is scheduled to be made next Friday (October 27). The plans come almost three weeks after Catalonia held a disputed independence referendum. Spain's Supreme Court had declared the vote illegal and said it violated the constitution. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont ignored a deadline on Thursday (October 19) to drop secession and at a protest to the plans, and the detention of two pro-independence leaders on Saturday, stopped short of saying he would push ahead with the independence bid. But Catalan media says Puigdemont could dissolve the regional parliament and call elections by next Friday. Meaning under Catalan law, those elections would take place within two months. That would enable Puigdemont to go the polls earlier than envisaged by Rajoy, who says it would be in a six-month timeframe, allowing the Catalan leader to exploit the anti-Madrid sentiment running high in the region.