Spain appoints deputy premier to replace Catalan leader

The central government in Madrid replaced the former Catalan president on Saturday and appointed Spanish deputy prime minister as the new leader of the region.

The measures came after Catalonia's separatist-led parliament voted to declare independence from Spain on Friday.

Minutes later the Spanish Senate enacted Article 155 of the constitution, which gives Madrid powers to take direct control of Catalonia, dismiss separatist leaders and trigger regional elections.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced Friday night that he has dissolved the Catalan Parliament and called regional elections for Dec. 21.

According to the resolution published in the Official Gazette, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria was appointed to replace Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and Vice-President Oriol Junqueras. Other regional ministers and the chief of the Catalan police have also been fired and replaced.

Additionally, Catalonia's regional government institutions will be linked to ministries of the central government.

Peaceful' opposition

Speaking on Catalan television TV3, Puigdemont said he does not recognize the decisions of the Spanish central government and will continue "to work to build a free country".

Puigdemont added the activation of Article 155 was a “premeditated aggression”, contrary to the will of the people. He also called on citizens to defend the new Catalan Republic with a “tireless civic sense and peaceful commitment”.

And despite Friday’s vote for independence and ensuing celebrations on the streets, Catalonia is still unanimously recognized as part of Spain by countries across the globe, including Turkey whose government spokesman Mahir Unal expressed his “condemnation” of the independence declaration.