Catalonia's separatist leader called on Catalans to peacefully oppose Spain's takeover, in an appearance Saturday that seemed to convey he refuses to accept his firing by central authorities, per the AP. Carles Puigdemont said in a brief statement that appeared to be pre-recorded that "we will continue working to build a free country." Spain's La Sexta TV channel simultaneously showed live footage of Puigdemont having lunch in a bar in central Girona, his hometown, occasionally interrupted by residents who asked him to pose for selfies. Spain took formal direct control of Catalonia on Saturday, dismissing the region's defiant separatist government a day after lawmakers passed a declaration of independence for the prosperous northeastern region.
This is uncharted territory for Spain, and Reuters notes that the "next few days will be tricky for Madrid" as it gradually imposes its rule. Catalonia's police agency, for example, issued a statement saying that it is operating as normal even though its chief has technically been fired. The police force instructed its officers to remain neutral. One big factor at play: Whether Spain will bring formal charges of rebellion against Puigdemont and Catalonia's other leaders over the referendum that Madrid considered illegal. The Independent reports that Spain's top prosecutor could bring the rebellion charges as early as Monday.
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