Sacked Catalan president Carles Puigdemont called Saturday for "democratic opposition" to Madrid's takeover of the region following Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence a day earlier.
"It's very clear that the best form of defending the gains made up until now is democratic opposition to Article 155," Puigdemont said in a brief televised statement.
Article 155 of Spain's constitution, the so-called "nuclear option", clears the way for Madrid to impose direct rule on the semi-autonomous region.
Some political commentators interpreted his mention of "democratic opposition" as laying the groundwork for political campaigning for the regional election in less than two months.
"Our will is to continue working to fulfill the democratic mandates and at the same time seek the maximum stability and tranquility," Puigdemont said.
Earlier on Saturday, Spain sacked the chief of Catalonia's regional police force, Josep Lluis Trapero, as the government in Madrid moved to take control of the region and block its push for independence.
There have been doubts over how the Mossos d'Esquadra, as the Catalan police are called, would respond if ordered to evict Puigdemont and his government.
"A bittersweet victory for these Catalans" - FRANCE 24 reporter Aurore Depuis
Meanwhile in Madrid, thousands took to the streets on Saturday to proclaim, "Prison for Puigdemont!" while waving Spanish flags.
Unhappy with Catalonia's secession bid, many also directed anger at Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whom they accuse of having been too soft on the region's separatist leaders.
"It is a disgrace what happened in Catalonia, and it's a disgrace what happened after," said Carlos Fernandez, a 41-year-old mining engineer.
After the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence on Friday, Rajoy responded by axing Puigdemont and his executive, dissolving parliament, and calling snap December 21 regional elections to quash what he called an "escalation of disobedience".
EU, France, US refuse to recognise Catalan move
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)
Date created : 2017-10-28