Published: Sun, June 03, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

New Catalan cabinet sworn in

New Catalan cabinet sworn in

The swearing-in will automatically bring an end to Madrid's direct rule over the wealthy, northeastern region of Catalonia, imposed in October after a failed bid to break away from Spain.

This will be a major challenge for the new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Mr Torra said at the swearing-in ceremony that his government was committed to advancing towards an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic.

Sanchez said on Thursday that one of the priorities of his government would be "rebuilding bridges" with regions and "establishing the foundations that allow us to normalize relations and start a dialogue between the Spanish government and the new government in Catalonia".

The unexpected coincidence of the central and regional governments taking power minutes apart could open a new chapter after dramatic months that have seen Catalan politicians jailed or flee overseas to avoid arrest.

In order to cobble together the support to cast out Rajoy, Sanchez promised to open talks with Torra in order to get the votes he needed from the Catalan pro-secession lawmakers in the national parliament.

It has blocked any attempts at independence in the courts, citing the constitution which says Spain is indivisible. The Catalan president also urged the socialist Pedro Sanchez to take risks in addressing the issue of Catalonia.

He has already said he would stick to the 2018 budget crafted by Rajoy's conservatives.

The 46-year-old Sanchez is Spain's seventh prime minister since the return to democracy following the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.

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

Torra is a fervent Catalan nationalist and was hand picked by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to succeed him.

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