Catalonia’s new separatist government sworn in

Catalonia’s new separatist government sworn in

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.

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.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as Spain's prime minister by King Felipe VI.

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

Newly elected Catalan regional leader Quim Torra passes a civil guard, as he leaves the Estremera prison where he visited former Catalan cabinet members Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn, Josep Rull and Raul Romeva, who are jailed there, pending trial, on charges of sedition, rebellion and misappropriation of funds, in Estremera, Spain May 21, 2018.

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 new Catalan government was sworn in to cheers of "Llibertat!" Spain's Constitution calls the nation "indivisible" and says national sovereignty resides in the Madrid-based parliament.

His Socialists hold just 84 seats in the 350-member assembly, which could make any bold move on the economic or political front - including on Catalonia - hard.

Torra was chosen by Puigdemont to be Catalonia's next leader after separatist parties kept their absolute majority in regional elections in December.