Catalan separatist flags are held up as fireworks go off in Sant Jaume Square in front of the Catalan regional government headquarters during celebrations after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BARCELONA/MADRID (Reuters) – The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago.
A new regional election will be held in Catalonia on Dec. 21, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a televised address on a day of high drama.
As well as removing Carles Puigdemont as head of the autonomous region, he also fired its police chief and said central government ministries would take over the Catalan administration.
“Spain is living through a sad day,” Rajoy said. “We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf.”
As he spoke, thousands of independence supporters packed the Sant Jaume Square in front of the …
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