Catalan Leader Compares Spanish Prime Minister to Fascist Dictator Franco

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Rajoy announced he would fire the regional Catalan government and force a new election

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont participates in a demonstration against the Spanish government and the imprisonment of separatist leaders, Barcelona, Spain, October 21, 2017.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont participates in a demonstration against the Spanish government and the imprisonment of separatist leaders, Barcelona, Spain, October 21, 2017. Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

The people of Catalonia cannot accept the "illegal" measures taken by the Spanish government to rule the region directly from Madrid, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said on Saturday, as he called on the regional parliament to act against them. 

Puigdemont said the decision by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire the regional government and force a new election, which will be effective next Friday, was "the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco."

In a referendum on October 1, a majority of Catalonian voters cast ballots in favor of independence from Spain.

Rajoy said his government had taken the unprecedented decision to restore the law, make sure regional institutions were neutral, and to guarantee public services and economic activity as well as preserve the civil rights of all citizens. 

"I ask the parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens' sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy and act in consequence," Puigdemont said in a televized speech.