Puigdemont Urges Parliament to Discuss Spain's Decision to Curb Catalan Autonomy

Protesters supporting Catalan independence take to the streets in Barcelona

Protesters supporting Catalan independence take to the streets in Barcelona

"We do not want to give up that which we have built together".

All of these measures are to be carried out under the unprecedented auspices of Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows Madrid to impose direct rule, and are pending a vote from the Senate, the upper house of Spain's parliament.

In a press conference, Spanish Prime Minister confirmed it was initiating Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which means it can take control of Catalonia, illustrating its determination to derail the independence movement led by separatist politicians in the prosperous industrial region. They can destroy everything they want but we'll keep on fighting.' (Picture: AFP/ Lluis Genelluis Gene/ Getty Images) Madrid could take direct control over Catalonia's police force and replace its public media chiefs, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy saying he had no other choice, faced with a grave threat to Spain's national unity.

Autonomy is a hugely sensitive issue in Catalonia, which saw its powers taken away under Spain's military dictatorship.

During the meeting, which started around 10:00 am (0800 GMT), Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his ministers will decide on what powers to take away from the wealthy region, which now enjoys wide autonomy including control over its own policing, education and healthcare.

Speaking at an European Union summit in Brussels on Friday, the Spanish Prime Minister said a "critical point" had been reached and that his government had to act to stop the rule of law being "liquidated".

Reports suggest Mr Rajoy is also preparing to potentially take control of its police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra.

But the upper house is majority-controlled by Rajoy's ruling Popular Party and he has secured the support of other major parties, meaning they will nearly certainly go through.

The demonstration was originally called to protest against the detention of two influential separatist activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who are being held on sedition charges accused of instigating protests in the run-up to Catalonia's banned independence referendum on October 1.

Regional authorities said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for independence.

The opposition announced that it supports this package of extraordinary measures that will allow the central government to directly rule over Catalonia.

Although Mr Rajoy underlined he had the support of both the Socialist Party and Ciudadanos, Spain's fourth largest political grouping, the measures were described as "authoritarian and a botched job." by the left-wing Podemos coalition.

'It's going to be like a colonial administration, and independence supporters will see it as an occupation'.

Almost 1,200 companies that have shifted their registered domiciles to other parts of Spain since the referendum, hoping to minimise instability.

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