Spain’s government filed a constitutional challenge Wednesday to Catalonia’s plan for independence as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy charged that separatists there were threatening centuries of Spanish unity.
State Attorney Marta Silva de Lapuerta filed the challenge before the Constitutional Court after Rajoy’s conservative government decided to turn to the courts to halt a split of the north-eastern region from the rest of Spain.
The legal action followed a vote Monday in Catalonia’s Parliament to enact a road map that lays out the steps towards founding an independent republic.
The government also asked the Constitutional Court to remove any officials in Catalonia who defy court rulings and who proceed with independence if the justices rule against the split.
If the court agrees to allow the central government’s challenge to proceed, the Catalonian vote would automatically and indefinitely be suspended.
The government in Madrid also threatened in its challenge to dismiss Catalan Prime Minister Artur Mas, Parliament president Carme Fordadell and the Catalan cabinet.
“We will not allow someone to destroy the rule of law and democracy,” Rajoy said.
The road map passed in Barcelona, however, said the process to create an independent state would continue even if the Constitutional Court declares it illegal.
Rajoy’s government also has the support of the opposition Socialists in challenging the road map.