Catalonia government sworn in, ending Madrid's direct rule

Catalonia government sworn in, ending Madrid's direct rule

New Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had been barely sworn in Saturday before one of the country's most critical issues facing his fragile government was pressed upon him: ending the Catalan secession crisis.

But they have very different targets, with Spain's Socialists, who had backed Rajoy's Catalonia policy, opposing independence.

Quim Torra, a close ally of sacked former president Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile, will lead the regional government.

The move comes a day after conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was dismissed by Spain's parliament.

Mr Sánchez is opposed to another independence referendum in Catalonia, but wants talks on the situation in the prosperous region.

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Madrid fired Catalonia's government and took control of the running of the region after an illegal and unsuccessful declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in October.

He called on Sanchez, an untested lawmaker who has never been in government, to meet and talk about Catalonia's future.

That takeover came to an end on Saturday after Torra formed his government, as stipulated by the Senate when it granted the central government the extraordinary powers to intervene in the running of the region.

Prosecutors made that request alongside a decision to challenge an earlier ruling rejecting extradition on the charge of rebellion after receiving new information from Spanish authorities including videos showing violence against police. "We need to sit around the same table and negotiate, government to government", he said. Sanchez and his party are staunch supporters of the European Union and the shared currency.

Sanchez' majority is the smallest for a Spanish government since the return to democracy following Francisco Franco's death in 1975, making it unclear how long his administration can last.

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