Prime Minister Announces Spain Will Remove Catalonia’s Leader

MADRID — In an unexpectedly forceful attempt to stop Catalan secessionism in its tracks, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced on Saturday that he would begin the process of removing the region’s separatist leader, Carles Puigdemont, from office.

After calling an emergency meeting of the Spanish cabinet, Mr. Rajoy announced the process to begin taking back control of the independence-minded region by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — a broad tool that has been threatened once before but never used.

Mr. Rajoy said the Catalan government never offered real dialogue with the central government in Madrid but instead tried to impose its secessionist project in violation of Spain’s Constitution.

He said his government was putting an end to “a unilateral process, contrary to the law and searching for confrontation” because “no government of any democratic country can accept that the law be violated, ignored and changed.”

Mr. Rajoy added, “What I have faced is something that I have never confronted in my many years in politics, but I didn’t choose my interlocutor.”

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