US Backs Spain's Efforts to Prevent Catalonian Independence

Crown prince pledges'moderate Saudi Arabia

People celebrate in front of the Catalan regional government headquarters after the regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona on Friday.

In a tweet soon after the results were announced, Rajoy called for "tranquility" in the Catalan region and promised "the rule of law will restore legality".

Lawmakers in the Spanish region's parliament voted to do exactly that on Friday.

Catalan opposition MPs, refusing to even consider the resolution, walked out en masse on what one described as a "dark day" for democracy.

Rajoy said the government's first move would be to dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his regional ministers if the Senate approves the Spanish government's use of Article 155 of the Constitution in a vote later Friday. Article 155 has never been used before and it is unclear how it will be enforced in practice.

The government's proposals include removing the Catalan government's regional leaders from office and curtailing the authority of the region's parliament.

Warning that seizure of control by the central government would escalate the crisis, he passed the buck to the regional parliament "to determine the consequences" of the threatened takeover - thus leaving the door open for a possible independence push.

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Catalonia has long functioned as an autonomous region within Spain, with its own parliament, language, and customs. But Spain's Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal. But it has a litany of historic grievances, exacerbated during the 1939-1975 Franco dictatorship, when its culture and politics were suppressed.

The crisis reached a fever pitch on October 1 when the Catalan referendum on independence took place.

Only about 43 percent of voters turned out, however, with many anti-secessionists staying away and others prevented from casting their ballot by Spanish police in a crackdown that turned violent. "We are proud to having declared independence but we know this is not something definitive".

Madrid responded by turning to Article 155. That's because the central government plans to take over key operations in Catalonia now run by ministers. Thursday, he declined to call for new elections, a move that would've averted intervention from Madrid and effectively ended the growing political standoff.

Here is a look at the latest developments in Spain's worst political crisis in decades. It seemed that there were people who were disillusioned, who had genuine grievances with the relationship of Catalonia to Spain and that were supporting the movement, but that had there been some negotiations, had some of those grievances been addressed, their support for the referendum would have waned.

What happened in the Catalan parliament?

There was protest inside the building too, with about 200 separatist mayors, in full regalia, chanting "Independence", until being silenced. The motion to declare independence was backed 70-10, with most of the opposition boycotting the vote, which paved the way for Spain to deploy the "nuclear option".

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