Spain to halt Catalan break

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government will unveil on Saturday specific measures agreed with opposition parties to halt Catalonia’s independence bid, but refused to confirm if the deal includes plans to hold a regional election in January.

The main negotiator in the opposition Socialist party, Carmen Calvo, said earlier Friday that a snap election in the prosperous region had been agreed upon as part of the Socialists’ support for the government’s effort to rein in the country’s deepest political crisis in decades.

Rajoy, commenting on the unprecedented constitutional step his government is taking to assume control of Catalonia, said on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels that “the goal is double: the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy.”

The move is likely to further inflame tensions between Spain and Catalan pro-independence activists. Catalonia’s government says it has the mandate to secede from Spain after an illegal referendum was held on Oct. 1, and it doesn’t want a new regional election.

The central government will hold a special Cabinet session on Saturday to begin the activation of Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution, which allows for central authorities to take over all or some of the powers of any of the country’s 17 autonomous regions.

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