Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invoked the most far-reaching powers in the Spanish Constitution as he aimed to strike a decisive blow against the Catalan separatist campaign that has divided the nation and put its economic expansion at risk.
Spain will dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the rest of his regional government as part of a barrage of actions under Article 155 of the Constitution, Rajoy said at a press conference in Madrid Saturday.
The decision has to be ratified by a vote in the Senate, potentially within a week.
Ministries in Madrid will take over the management of the Catalan administration, including the regional police force and its public television and radio channels, while the prime minister will have the power to dissolve the regional legislature.
He said he aims to trigger fresh elections within six months.
“We are going to work to return to normality,” Rajoy said at a news conference in Madrid after a cabinet meeting.
“We are going to work so that all Catalans can feel united and participate in a common project in Europe and the world that has been known for centuries as Spain.
” The decision brings the Catalan crisis to a new intensity, as the prime minister seeks to put down an unprecedented constitutional rebellion with untested legal weaponry.
While Rajoy has the law, most of the country and ultimately the army at his back, the Catalan separatists are counting on widespread support from regional officials and an extensive network of activists who’ve drawn up plans for guerrilla action against foreign companies and critical infrastructure.
To read more about the risks that Rajoy’s plan may face, click here Catalan institutions have flouted the authority of the Spanish state since legislating for a referendum on independence on Sept.
Despite a series of rulings from the courts, regional officials went ahead with that vote amid a violent police crackdown, waving away complaints about widespread irregularities to declare victory.
Separatist leaders in the Catalan Parliament will meet Monday to discuss a date for a unilateral declaration of independence, according to a person familiar with their plans.
“This is a serious attack on the rights and freedoms of all people, here and everywhere,” Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who backs the Catalans right to vote, but hasn’t called for independence, said on Twitter.
Puigdemont is due to speak at 9 p.
Rajoy’s decision may be a watershed moment for Spain and its 1.
3 trillion) economy, which counts on Catalonia for a fifth of its output.
Hundreds of companies have already set up headquarters elsewhere in the country to avoid the developing legal limbo and the government has cut its growth forecast for next year, citing the disruption in Catalonia.
For a guide to Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, click here “Rajoy is showing the Catalans that the intervention has a clear time limit,” said Narciso Michavila, the chairman of polling company GAD3, which has done consultancy work for Rajoy’s People’s Party.
“He is clearing up some people’s concerns about a long-term intervention.
” Rajoy thanked two opposition parties, the Socialists and Ciudadanos, for their support for the measures.
Between them, those groups have 250 out of the 350 seats in the national parliament.
Rajoy said there’s no way now that the measures can be halted, unless the Senate votes against them.
Rajoy said he wanted no more companies to take their registered offices out of Catalonia or for savers to take their savings from banks in the region.
Major Barcelona-based companies including CaixaBank SA and Gas Natural SDG SA have moved their legal base out of the region because of the political uncertainty.
The independence struggle has thrust Catalonia onto the world stage, casting the regional capital Barcelona in a fresh and dramatic light.
Spain’s second-biggest city, a tourist hub and a major port on the Mediterranean, has been filled with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, and thousands of police, at key moments in the battle.
Separatists have called supporters to a demonstration in the regional capital at 5 p.
and Puigdemont plans to attend.
Bitcoin set a new record high on Saturday breaking through the $6,100 barrier.
The cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of $6,147.
07 just a day after pushing through the $6,000 mark, according to data from industry website CoinDesk.
Much of the rise can be attributed to another upcoming split in bitcoin known as a "fork".
This will lead to the creation of a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin gold.
Holders of bitcoin will get some bitcoin gold when it is issued, essentially giving them free money.
But Alex Sunnarborg, founding partner of cryptocurrency fund Tetras Capital, told CNBC on Friday that bitcoin investors were betting on bitcoin holding its status despite the split.
Bitcoin already underwent a fork in August when a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin cash was created.
Despite this, bitcoin has continued to perform strongly.
At the same time, there are rumors that China could reverse its ban on cryptocurrency exchanges which is also giving bitcoin a boost.
Bullishness around bitcoin continues despite big business figures like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon calling it a "fraud" and saying that people who invest in it are "stupid".
In an unscientific survey carried out by CNBC this week, nearly half of the more than 23,000 people who voted said bitcoin is heading to over $10,000.
Former hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz told CNBC in a recent interview that he sees bitcoin heading to $10,000 in the next six to 10 months.
Bitcoin has also been helped by favorable regulation in Japan which recently allowed companies to accept the digital currency as payment.
Around 57 percent of the trade in bitcoin was executed in Japanese yen on Saturday, according to industry website CryptoCompare.
But the virtual currency has also suffered regulatory setbacks including China banning cryptocurrency exchanges.
Still, the price of bitcoin has risen over 500 percent year-to-date.
A man wounded five people with a knife in the southern German city of Munich on Saturday and was being hunted by police, police and the fire department said.
None of the injuries were life-threatening, police said, adding that the attacker`s motive remained unclear.
They urged people in the city to remain at home as they had received conflicting information about which way the attacker had gone.
They described the suspect as a corpulent, unshaven man in his 40s who had fled the scene on a bicycle.
BERLIN - Police say a man with a knife has lightly wounded four people in Munich.
Officers are looking for the assailant.
Munich police called on people in the Rosenheimer Platz area, located close to the German city’s downtown, to stay inside after the incident on Saturday morning.
The perpetrator fled the scene.
Police said he appeared to be about 40 years old and had a black bicycle, gray trousers, a green jacket and a backpack.
The police department said on Twitter that officers are looking for the assailant “with all available police forces.
” It said the motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
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The Spanish government will seek to dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont as part of a barrage of actions under Article 155 of the Constitution that aims to shut down the push for independence, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.
Puigdemont and his regional administration will be removed from office once the Spanish Senate approves the government’s plan as soon as this week and Spanish government ministers will take over the management of the Catalan administration, Rajoy said.
“We are going to work to return to normality,” Rajoy said, as car horns sounded in downtown Madrid.
“We are going to work so that all Catalans can feel united and participate in a common project in Europe and the world that has been know for centuries as Spain.
” The move may be a watershed moment for Spain and its 1.
3 trillion) economy, which counts on Catalonia for a fifth of its output.
Hundreds of companies have already set up headquarters elsewhere in the country to avoid a legal limbo that emerged after Catalan leaders on Oct.
10 claimed the right to an independent republic.
With the central government’s measure due to come into force within days, Catalan leaders are due to meet Monday to discuss whether to push ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence.
Rajoy thanked two opposition parties, the Socialists and Ciudadanos, for their support for the measures.
Heavy rain and powerful winds are expected to lash large areas of Japan on Sunday as a strong typhoon sweeps ashore, possibly hindering voter turnout in a national election.
Typhoon Lan was classified as an intense Category 4 storm on Saturday, with winds of up to 250 km/h (156 mph), according to the Tropical Storm Risk website.
By midday, it was south of South Borodino Island, east of Okinawa, and moving northeast at 15 kph, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
It is expected to weaken to a Category 1 typhoon as it nears the Tokyo metropolitan area on Monday morning, Tropical Storm Risk said.
Authorities in Okinawa and Hyogo prefectures have moved voting ahead a day for some remote islands as the storm neared, media said.
Saturday marked the last day of campaigning for the parliament`s lower house seats, and bad weather could deter some voters.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition is on track to roughly match the two-thirds "super majority" it held in parliament`s lower house before dissolution, helped by divisions in the opposition camp and jitters over North Korea`s nuclear and missile programmes, media forecasts have said.
The Spanish cabinet was meeting on Saturday to prepare to impose direct rule on Catalonia and thwart a drive by the autonomous region to breakaway from Spain.
It will be the first time in Spain`s four decades of democracy that Madrid has invoked the constitutional right to take control of a region and rule it directly from Madrid.
Independence supporters were due to rally in the Catalan capital Barcelona on Saturday afternoon.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who heads the wealthy northeastern region`s government, has broken the law several times in pushing for independence, thus justifying the imposition of central government control.
Direct rule would be temporary and could range from dismissing the regional government to a softer approach of removing heads of specific departments.
The exact measures must be agreed and voted upon in Spain`s upper house, the Senate, and Rajoy wants the broadest consensus possible.
The main opposition Socialists said on Friday they would back special measures and had agreed on the holding of regional elections in January.
The government declined to confirm this, saying only that regional elections were likely and the details would be announced on Saturday.
Rajoy received the backing of the head of state, King Felipe, on Friday, who said at a public ceremony that "Catalonia is and will remain an essential part" of Spain.
"Spain needs to face up to an unacceptable secession attempt on its national territory, which it will resolve through its legitimate democratic institutions," said the king, a ceremonial figure who had criticised Catalan leaders earlier this month.
The independence push has brought on Spain`s worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981 several years after the end of the Franco dictatorship.
It has met with strong opposition across the rest of Spain, divided Catalonia itself, and raised the prospect of prolonged street protests.
It has also led Madrid to cut economic growth forecasts and prompted hundreds of firms to move their headquarters from Catalonia.
Spain has the euro zone`s fourth-largest economy and Catalonia accounts for a fifth of it.
Pro-independence groups have mustered more than one million people onto the streets in protest at Madrid`s refusal to negotiate a solution.
Heavy-handed police tactics to shut down a an independence referendum on Oct.
1 that the government had declared illegal drew criticism from human rights groups.
Regional authorities said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for independence.
But only 43 percent of voters participated and opponents of secession mostly stayed home.
Activist organisations ANC and Omnium have called on their supporters to rally at 16:00 p.
London time in Barcelona, the region`s principal city, in protest at the jailing of their leaders over sedition accusations.