BARCELONA, Spain —Catalonia’s fired leaders will continue “working to build a free country,” its ousted separatist president said Saturday, as he called for peaceful opposition to Spain’s imposition of direct rule in the region.

Carles Puigdemont’s comments, made in a recorded televised address that was broadcast as he sat in a cafe in his hometown of Girona, were a veiled refusal to accept his Cabinet’s dismissal as ordered by central authorities.

They came after one of the most tumultuous days in Spain’s recent history, as Catalan lawmakers in Barcelona passed a declaration of independence for the prosperous northeastern region, and the national parliament in Madrid approved unprecedented constitutional measures to halt the secessionist drive.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also dissolved the regional parliament and called a new regional election to be held on Dec. 21.

In his televised statement, Puigdemont said only the regional parliament can elect or dismiss the Catalan government, vowing to “continue working to build a free country.”

“The best way we have to defend the achievements to date is the democratic opposition to the application of Article 155,” Puigdemont said in reference to the constitutional clause that gave Madrid direct control of affairs in Catalonia.

Despite his defiant tone and the use of the official Catalan government emblem, the Catalan and European Union flags but no sign of the Spanish one, some political commentators saw his mention of “democratic opposition” as laying the groundwork for political campaigning for the regional election in less than two months.

“Our will is to continue working to fulfill the democratic mandates and at the same time seek the maximum stability and tranquility,” Puigdemont said. Separatists argue that a controversial victory in a banned Oct. 1 referendum legitimizes them to split from Spain.

Andrew Dowling, a specialist in Catalan history at Cardiff University in Wales, said the statement was “vague and imprecise, certainly not like the president of a new country.”

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