Spanish vice president to lead attempt to impose direct rule over Catalonia
Madrid orders the removal of the Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero
The Spanish government is set to carry on its attempt to impose direct rule over Catalonia on Saturday, a day after the parliament voted on a declaration of independence bringing the political crisis between executives in Madrid and Barcelona to new heights. With Catalan pro-independence leaders no longer recognizing orders from Spain, the question now is whether Article 155 of the Constitution can effectively be put into effect.
After announcing the removal of the Catalan government, the dissolution of the Parliament, and fresh polls for December 21, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy delegated the task to assume the main responsibilities of the Catalan executive to his vice president and right-hand woman, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
“We tried to prevent the political process in Catalonia from affecting the normal functioning of the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police), but sadly it has not been this way"
Pere Soler · Former Director General of the Catalan police
Rajoy’s ministers will try to seize control of their Catalan counterparts. In a move to secure control of the Catalan police, the Spanish Home Affairs Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido ordered the removal of its chief, Josep Lluís Trapero. "We assume the responsibilities of the Catalan Home Affairs Ministry in order to protect legality," Zoido tweeted.
Trapero's dismissal is due to his "judicial situation," said Zoido. The Catalan police chief is accused with sedition charges in relation to the October 1 referendum and the demonstrations that took place prior to the vote. The public prosecutor asked the judge to send him to prison, but the latter opted instead for less drastic measures and confiscated his passport.
So far, Trapero has not announced yet whether he will obey Madrid’s instructions and step down. In a letter sent on Saturday to its officers, the Catalan police said it will continue to work “as normal” and reassured that “the principle of neutrality will prevail”.
"Extraordinarily unfair" decission
The Director General of the Catalan police, Pere Soler, sent a farewell letter to the police corps on Friday following the Spanish government’s decision to fire him, which he deemed as “extraordinarily unfair."
“We tried to prevent the political process in Catalonia from affecting the normal functioning of the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police), but sadly it has not been this way," he went on to say.