Spanish Prime Minister Announces Plan for 'Coup', Taking Control of Catalonia

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But it took on an even angrier tone after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his government would move to dismiss the region's separatist government, take control of its ministries and call fresh elections in Catalonia.

It has also led Madrid to cut economic growth forecasts and prompted hundreds of firms to move their headquarters from Catalonia.

Earlier on Saturday the speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell the decision to force a new election is a "coup" and an "attack against democracy".

The attack on Saturday came as social media accounts linked to the Anonymous hacktivist group had launched a campaign to "free Catalonia". It's never been applied since the 1978 Constitution was adopted. She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

A Cabinet meeting is underway in Madrid to outline government measures for taking control of the Catalonia region to stop regional authorities from breaking away from Spain.

Spain's National Security Department said late on Friday that an undisclosed number of government websites had been hit in recent weeks with slogans supporting independence for the country's Catalonia region.

The prestigious prize-giving ceremony was attended by European leaders, in so doing implicitly pledging their support for Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's position on unite Spain and rejecting the Catalan bid for independence.

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The goal is 'the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy, ' the prime minister said Friday. He said a new regional election in Catalonia should be held in the next six months.

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

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.

Rajoy could force the removal of Catalan officials and call early regional elections for as soon as January.

Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau, who opposes the independence drive, tweeted: "Rajoy has suspended the self-government of Catalonia for which so many people fought".

"I ask the parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens' sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy and act in outcome", Puigdemont said in a televised speech.

Mr Rajoy said he had been forced to take these measures, because "no government of any democratic country can accept that the law be violated, ignored and changed".

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