Spanish govt recognizes powers of new Catalan leader Torra, blocks councilors

The Spanish government on Monday recognized the powers of newly-elected Catalan leader Quim Torra. However, Madrid objected to his choice of councilors and refused to ratify his chosen team, Reuters reported, citing official documents. The outcome means that Madrid will continue to impose direct rule on the northeastern region. Torra, a separatist who wants to recreate the administration that declared independence from Spain in October, put forward four men as councilors who are either being held in custody or are living in self-imposed exile. Under the terms of emergency legislation brought in to take over the Catalan administration, Madrid must lift direct rule once the government in Barcelona is fully formed and cabinet members named.