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Catalonia declares independence, Madrid says no

BARCELONA/MADRID: Catalonia's Parliament declared independence from Spain yesterday in defiance of Madrid.

Within minutes of the development, the upper house of Spain's Parliament authorised the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to rule Catalonia from Madrid.

Mr Rajoy called a crisis Cabinet meeting later in the day to look at further measures, which could include assuming direct supervision of Catalan police forces.

"Spain is a serious country and a great nation, and we will not tolerate that a few people try to liquidate our Constitution," he told journalists after the Senate vote.

The motion passed in the regional Parliament in Barcelona, which was boycotted by opposition parties, said Catalonia constituted an independent, sovereign and social democratic state. Catalonia called on other countries and institutions to recognise it.

Members of the pro-independence parties and far-left Podemos voted 70-10 in favour in a secret ballot aimed at hindering any attempt by the central government to lay criminal charges on them.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont left the chamber to shouts of "President!".

He told supporters: "You will have to maintain the momentum of this country in the coming hours, particularly where peace, civic responsibility and dignity are concerned." - REUTERS

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