Updated: 27/10/17 : 11:33:49
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World :: Spanish PM Rajoy demands direct rule

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on senators to approve direct rule over Catalonia, amid an escalating crisis over the region's push for independence.

He said he wanted to dismiss Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, his vice-president and all regional ministers.

Mr Rajoy's speech was met with applause in the Spanish senate, where his Partido Popular has a majority.

Earlier this month Catalonia held a disputed referendum on the issue.

Mr Rajoy said he was calling for exceptional measures because there was no other choice and said "law, democracy and stability" needed to be returned to Catalonia.

He accused the Catalan government of dividing families and fracturing society. Many people had already suffered too much, he said, and the uncertainty was driving businesses out of the region.

"The thing that Catalans need protecting from is not what they're calling Spanish imperialism, but a minority who, in an intolerant way, declare themselves the owners of Catalonia and consider as exclusive a history, culture and feelings that are the heritage of the community," he said.

Article 155 of the Spanish constitution empowers the government to take "all measures necessary to compel" a region in case of a crisis.

It would enable Madrid to take control of Catalonia's finances, police and public media.