FC Barcelona chief backs Catalan leaders in clash with Spain

Protesters supporting Catalan independence take to the streets in Barcelona

Meanwhile, King Felipe has said Catalonia "is and will remain an essential part of 21st century Spain".

As it acquires control of Catalan ministries, Madrid will assume responsibility over security, public order, finance, tax and budgetary measures, and telecommunications, a government statement indicated.

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.

Mr Rajoy said he wants the senate to give him permission to dissolve the regional government in Barcelona and call early elections. The referendum has been deemed illegal by the central Spanish authorities.

Marta Rovira, the general secretary of the Junqueras' separatist ERC party, said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's actions are a "coup d'etat" created to crush Catalonia's self-rule and aspirations of breaking away from Spain.

Colau nonetheless criticized the central government on Saturday and called its moves "a serious attack" on Catalonia's regional autonomy.

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".

Even moderate Catalans were aghast at the scope of the move, and the announcement was met with banging pots and honking cars in the streets of Barcelona.

At the national level, Pablo Echenique, a secretary in the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party.

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He accused the separatists of "liquidating the Spanish Constitution" and failing to respect local laws when they rushed legislation permitting a referendum on independence through the Catalan parliament in early September.

Under his plans, the powers of Catalan officials would be transferred to the Spanish government, but he stressed he did not want to use them to rule Catalonia directly. If the answer on his part will not, the government may, with the approval of the absolute majority of the Senate to take the necessary steps to perform an offline community above obligations under compulsion or for the protection of the mentioned national interests.

His proposals, under the never-used-before article 155 of the constitution, will nevertheless put an end to Catalonia's home rule prerogative, and mark an escalation of Spain's biggest political crisis since a failed coup d'etat in 1981.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is chairing the meeting at the Moncloa palace on Saturday.

Rajoy said Friday that the goal of revoking Catalan self-governance is "the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy".

This allows authorities to intervene when one of the country's 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.

Opposition parties have agreed to support the prime minister in revoking Catalonia's autonomy as a way to thwart the independence drive. The application of articles then must be approved by the Senate.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont announced on October 10 that the results of the vote enabled the declaration of independence.

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