Madrid sacks Catalan government, snap elections scheduled for December 21

Madrid sacks Catalan government, snap elections scheduled for December 21
Spain's central government has announced the dissolution of the regional parliament in Catalonia, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declaring that new elections will be held in the region on December 21.

Follow LIVE UPDATES on Catalonia declaring independence

Following the Catalan parliament's earlier vote Friday, in which it took the decision to announce the region's independence from Spain, the government in Madrid promptly fired the cabinet in Catalonia.

"We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf," Rajoy said in a televised speech.

Madrid will seek to pronounce Catalonia's declaration of independence illegal, he stated. Central government ministers will, in the meantime, assume the powers of the Catalan administration before the snap election.

Saying that Madrid "never wanted to come to this point," Rajoy also announced that the head of Catalan's regional police, all members of Catalonia's foreign affairs department, as well as delegates in Brussels and Madrid are also henceforth fired.

Earlier in the day, 70 Catalan lawmakers voted in favor of the independence declaration in a secret ballot. Ten voted against the motion, while lawmakers opposed to independence boycotted the vote. Minutes after the independence was declared by the regional parliament, the Spanish Senate approved invoking Constitutional Article 155, imposing direct Madrid rule on Catalonia.

Thousands took to the streets of Barcelona Friday as the central government appealed for calm. People gathered outside Catalonia's parliament building, with the crowd having gone wild with excitement when the decision to declare independence was announced.