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Spain to take special measures for Catalonia takover

By Aritz Parra

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said his government will announce specific measures today to take control of the Catalonia region, now that an agreement has been reached with the country's main opposition parties.

Mr Rajoy refused to confirm if the agreement with the Socialists includes plans to hold regional elections in Catalonia in January, as announced by the party's negotiator earlier.

His government also reached agreement with the centre-right, pro-business Ciudadanos (Citizens) party.

Mr Rajoy, commenting on the unprecedented constitutional step he is taking to assume control of Catalonia, said: "The goal is double: the return to legality, and the recovery of institutional normalcy."

The prime minister said the Catalan crisis was only discussed on the sidelines of a European leaders' summit because the political deadlock is an internal Spanish affair.

But he said his fellow leaders share his concern that Catalan separatist authorities have acted against the rule of law and democracy.

The main negotiator for the opposition Socialists, Carmen Calvo, said earlier a snap election in the prosperous region had been agreed upon as part of the Socialists' support for government efforts to rein in the crisis.

The move is likely to further inflame tensions between Spain and Catalan pro-independence activists.

Catalonia's government said it has the mandate to secede from Spain after an illegal referendum was held on October 1, and it does not want a new regional election.

The central government will hold a special Cabinet session today to begin the activation of Article 155 of Spain's 1978 Constitution.

This allows central authorities to take over all or some of the powers of any of the country's 17 autonomous regions.

The measure, which has never been used since democracy was restored after General Francisco Franco's dictatorship, needs to be approved by the Senate.

Belfast Telegraph

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