Madrid plays down general's threats of army takeover
9 January 2006, MADRID — The government played down the outburst of the head of the Spanish army who said the military may have to intervene over Catalonia's bid for greater autonomy.
9 January 2006
MADRID — The government played down the outburst of the head of the Spanish army who said the military may have to intervene over Catalonia's bid for greater autonomy.
Spanish army chief Lt. Gen. Jose Mena Aguado was placed under house arrest for eight days and may be relieved of duty this week.
The move came after the general said the armed forces would be forced to intervene if the constitution of any of the nation's autonomous regions overstepped the limits set by the Spanish Constitution.
Defense minister Jose Bono ordered the house arrest on Saturday after meeting in Madrid with Gen. Mena Aguado and armed forces chief Gen. Felix Sanz Roldan.
Bono said that next Friday he would ask the council of ministers to relieve Mena, 64, of his duties until he retires from the military in March as scheduled.
The government insisted on Monday there was not a general problem within the military and these were isolated comments.
On Friday, during a military celebration in Seville, Gen. Mena said Art. 8 of the Spanish Constitution declares the armed forces "guarantors" of the nation's territorial integrity.
"The mission of the armed forces, comprising the army, navy and air force, is to guarantee Spain's sovereignty and independence and defend its integrity and constitutional order," he said at the time.
He specifically warned of the "grave consequences, for both the armed forces as an institution and the persons who compose it, that passage of the Statute of Catalonia, in the terms in which it is currently expressed, entails".
"Requiring knowledge of its particular language (Catalan) is an inordinate aspiration that would force the armed forces to control events in that autonomous region the way events abroad are currently controlled," he added.
In November, the new statute of Catalonia, which would give the region the most self-government in its history, cleared its first hurdle in the Spanish parliament when it was accepted for consideration amid controversy as to its constitutionality.
One of the most controversial elements of the new statute - the previous one was adopted in 1979 - is the description of the region as a "nation," when the Spanish Constitution recognizes only Spain as such.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news