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Nationalists regained control of Catalonia's government on Saturday and immediately pledged to seek independence for the wealthy region, in a major challenge for new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Thirteen members of Catalonia's regional government were sworn in during a ceremony in Barcelona, the capital of Spain's Catalan region.

Earlier on Friday, Socialist Pedro Sanchez took over as Spain's prime minister, succeeding Mariano Rajoy who lost a vote of confidence in parliament. "This situation we're going through can not go on for even one more day".

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".

Torra's call for talks came as his handpicked 13 councillors took oath in the regional presidency in Barcelona - some of them wearing yellow, the colour that has come to symbolise the separatist cause.

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"Yes I promise", they responded to strong applause.

Torra is a fervent Catalan nationalist and was hand picked by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to succeed him.

The unexpected coincidence of the central and regional governments taking over at the same time could open a new chapter after dramatic months that have seen Catalan politicians jailed or flee overseas to avoid arrest.

According to the extraordinary powers granted to Spain's central government by the Senate, the large degree of self-rule enjoyed by the region would be returned once it formed a government after a new election.

The 55-year-old former editor has been under pressure from some segments of his own separatist camp to adopt a more conciliatory stance, in order to allow a new Catalan government to take office and end Madrid's direct rule. Rajoy then organised snap elections in Catalonia in December, hoping opponents of independence would win, but that backfired when voters gave separatists a majority.


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