PRIME Minister Mariano Rajoy has said he is dissolving the Catalan parliament after it voted to declare independence earlier today.

The Spanish leader said the unprecedented move to impose direct rule on the region was essential to ‘recover normality’.

He is also sacking Catalan leader Carles Puigedemont and his cabinet.

It comes as thousands of people have gathered in Barcelona to celebrate the independence declaration.

There are growing fears that violence will erupt if Spanish police repeat the police crackdown seen in the recent referendum.

Rajoy has declared that there will be snap Catalan elections on December 21.

The region will remain under Madrid control until then.

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