Viet Nam News
BARCELONA — Catalan parties were due to meet on Monday to discuss their next steps at the start of a week that will see Spain dismiss the region’s government to stave off its threat to break away from the country.
"What happens now, with everyone in agreement and unity, is that we will announce what we will do and how," Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said after denouncing what he called "a fully-fledged coup against Catalan institutions".
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Saturday announced he would remove Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive, with Madrid taking control of ministries under unprecedented measures to stop the region breaking away.
The Catalan parties will meet on Monday to set a date and agenda for a gathering of the regional parliament to debate their next steps -- a session that could potentially give the ruling separatists another opportunity to declare unilateral independence, which they have been threatening to do since a banned referendum on the issue on October 1.
Though Catalans are deeply divided on whether to break away from Spain, autonomy remains a sensitive issue in the northeastern region of 7.5 million people. Catalonia fiercely defends its language and culture and has previously enjoyed control over its policing, education and healthcare.
Spain’s government says it had no choice but to use previously untested constitutional powers to seize control of the region, faced with the country’s worst political crisis in decades.
"What we are doing is following strictly the provisions of our constitution," Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told BBC television.
Responding to accusations of a "coup", he said: "If there is a coup d’etat, it is one that has been followed by Mr. Puigdemont and his government."
Madrid could take control of the Catalan police force and replace its public media chiefs, while new elections for the regional parliament must be called within six months.
The Senate, where Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party holds a majority and his approach to Catalonia enjoys support from other major parties, is set to approve the measures by the end of the week. — AFP