Oppose Madrid: Sacked Catalan leader

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria is due to meet later with secretaries of state who will likely take charge of Catalonia's regional ministries.

The Spanish government is shutting down Catalonia's foreign affairs department and dismissing its delegates in Brussels and Madrid.

He fired the government and parliament and called December 21 elections to replace them.

Spain was plunged into uncertainty on October 1 when Catalonia, a prosperous northeastern state tahta ccounts for 20 percent of Spain's gross domestic product, held an independence referendum, though courts had declared the proceedings illegal.

The measures early on Saturday came after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence on Friday.

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They watched events inside from two giant screens as they clapped and shouted "independence" in Catalan.

As thousands rallied in Madrid in support of Spanish unity, Carles Puigdemont's office said he would make a speech at the seat of the regional government at 2:30 pm (1230 GMT).

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, right, could face decades in jail.

Catalan lawmakers declared independence on Friday.

A band took to the stage and the crowd defiantly began singing and dancing to music, shouting: "We are not moving".

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Occitanie includes the Pyrenees-Orientales, whose territory was part of Catalonia until the signing of a treaty to end a war between France and Spain in 1659.

"It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts", said Downing Street. "We continue working normally".

Speaking on Sky News, Ms Moceri said: "Most of Spain would like to see a legal referendum but to get to that, that requires change to Spain's constitution".

Spain moved Saturday, October 28, to seize direct control of Catalonia, sacking its police chief a day after the Catalan regional parliament's independence declaration sent shock waves through Europe.

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