MADRID — Spain took drastic measures Saturday to stop Catalonia from breaking away, announcing it will move to dismiss the region’s separatist government and call fresh elections.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his regional ministers — who sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum — will be stripped of their jobs, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.
Puigdemont’s threat to declare a breakaway state “has been unilateral, contrary to the law, and seeking confrontation,” Rajoy said, announcing measures that could give the central government direct control over Catalonia’s police force and allow for its public media chiefs to be replaced.
After hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded Barcelona’s streets earlier Saturday to show their anger at Madrid, Puigdemont said Rajoy was guilty of “the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people” since Franco, calling for the parliament of the semi-autonomous region to meet urgently.
Barcelona police said 450,000 people joined a protest in the regional capital earlier, many chanting “freedom” and “independence” and waving Catalonia’s yellow, red and blue separatist flag.
Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist from 1939 to his death in 1975, and among other repressive measures took Catalonia’s powers away and banned the official use of Catalan language.
Puigdemont, however, did not once say the word “independence” as Spain and the rest of the European Union waits to see if he will carry out his threat to declare a breakaway state.
Catalan government number two Oriol Junqueras reacted furiously, posting on his Twitter account: “Today the PP and its allies have not only suspended autonomy, they have suspended democracy.”
And though she opposes the independence drive, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau also deplored the decision, tweeting: “Rajoy has suspended the self-government of Catalonia for which so many people fought. A serious attack on the rights and freedoms of everyone.”
Autonomy is a highly sensitive issue in Catalonia, which saw its powers taken away under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.
Home to 7.5 million people, the wealthy northeastern region fiercely defends its language and culture and enjoys control over its policing, education and healthcare.
Under Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, Madrid has the power to wrest back control of rebellious regions, but it has never used them before.Follow @gorkhapost
PM Oli expands cabinet, 15 new ministers inducted
KATHMANDU — Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has has expanded the Cabinet inducting 15 new ministers from his party CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), increasing the size of his Cabinet to 22 on Friday.With this, the cabinet led by PM Oli has been extended to 21 members.
Six lawmakers from CPN-UML and five from CPN Maoist Centre lawmakers have been inducted as Ministers to the Cabinet. Likewise, three lawmakers are included as Minister of State.
The newly appointed ministers and state ministers were administered the oath of office at President’s office in Sheetal Niwas, by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Sheetal Niwas amid an official function.
The newly ministers are as follows :
Gokarna Bista – Minister for Labour and Employment
Pradeep Kumar Gyawali – Minister for Foreign Affairs
Rabindra Adhikari – Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation
Jagat Bishwakarma – Minister for Youth and Sports
Sher Bahadur Tamang – Minister for Law
Raghubir Mahaseth – Minister for Physical Infrastructure Planning and Development
Gokul Baskota – State Minister for Information and Communication
Padma Kumari Aryal -State Minister for Health and Polulation
CPN Maoist Centre
Barsha Man Pun -Minister for Energy and Water Resources
Giriraj Mani Pokharel – Minister for Education
Shakti Basnet – Minister of Forestry
Chakrapani Khanal – Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives
Bina Magar – Minister for Drinking Water
Ram Kumari Chaudhary – State Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives
PM Oli, earlier in the second expansion of his Cabinet, had appointed CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Ram Bahadur Thapa as Minister for Home Affairs, CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Matrika Yadav as Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, former governor Yabaraj Khatiwada as Minister for Finance, and CPN-UML’s Ishwor Pokharel as Defence Minister.Follow @gorkhapost
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