Ousted Catalan leader vows to fight Spain's takeover

Students wear Esteladas as they block a street during a gathering to protest against the imprisonment of leaders of two of the largest Catalan separatist organisations Catalan National Assembly's Jordi Sanchez and Omnium's Jord

An official state bulletin (in Spanish) handed control of Catalonia to Spain's Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont leaves the hemicycle after Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain on October 27, 2017 in Barcelona.

Catalonia is one of Spain's richest, most distinctive regions, with a high degree of autonomy.

Snap elections were called in the region, which also saw its most senior police officials dismissed and demonstrations for and against independence running on into the night.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ordered the dissolution of the Catalan regional parliament and called a new regional election for December 21.

After the Spanish prime minister sacked the Catalan leadership on Friday amid the declaration of independence by the autonomous region, the former regional leader has issued a statement clarifying his position on the situation.

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Catalonia's separatist leader has called on Catalans to peacefully oppose Spain's takeover, in a staged appearance that seemed to convey that he refuses to accept his firing, which was ordered by central authorities. "There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today", Mr Puigdemont said.

The debate began on Thursday, after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont failed to reveal a favoured course of action, and called on MPs to decide on a response. "Without violence, without insults, in an inclusive way, respecting people and symbols, opinions, and also respecting the protests of the Catalans who do not agree with what the parliamentary majority has decided".

Spain fired Catalonia's regional leaders on Saturday morning.

In comments that were met late Friday with jeers and whistles of disapproval by secession supporters in Barcelona, the main city in Catalonia, Rajoy said that the declaration of independence "not only goes against the law but is a criminal act". Some accused Catalonia's leaders of treason.

Carles Puigdemont said in a brief statement that appeared to be pre-recorded that "we will continue working to build a free country".

Many Catalans feel they pay more to Madrid than they get back, and there are historical grievances, too, in particular Catalonia's treatment under the dictatorship of General Franco.

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