efe-epaMadrid

The Spanish government announced Thursday that it is to hold an emergency cabinet meeting to approve the measures which will instruct the Senate to trigger constitutional mechanisms to strip Catalonia of its regional autonomy.

A government statement said the meeting is to be held Saturday as a response to Catalonia's refusal to rescind its declaration of independence from the rest of Spain.

Speaking in Parliament, Government Spokesman Iñigo Mendez Vigo said the measures were intended to "protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and restore constitutional order to the region."

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont had earlier on Thursday sent a letter to the government in which he refused to shelf his declaration of independence and instead threatened to put the issue before the parliament of Catalonia.

The Spanish government had handed him an ultimatum demanding that he back out of his independence plans or lose the region's autonomy.

"In the absence of a response, the government understands that the requirement has not been responded to and will go ahead with Article 155 of the Constitution," said Mendez Vigo.

He denounced that the Catalan government was intent on deliberately and systematically looking for an institutional confrontation despite the serious danger that it was creating for the economic structure of Catalonia and its ability to live in harmony.