Catalonia's separatist president Quim Torra has called for talks with Spain's new prime minister as the Catalan regional executive was sworn in.

Catalan President Quim Torra, centre, poses with the members of the new government after the swearing in ceremony celebrated at the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, June 2, 2018.
Catalan President Quim Torra, centre, poses with the members of the new government after the swearing in ceremony celebrated at the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, June 2, 2018. (AP)

Catalonia's new separatist government was sworn in Saturday in an emotional ceremony full of pro-independence symbolism, a move that will spark the end of Madrid's direct rule over the region imposed after a failed secession bid.

It comes shortly after Spain's Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez was sworn in as prime minister in Madrid, a day after ousting Mariano Rajoy in a historic no-confidence vote sparked by fury over corruption woes afflicting the conservative leader's party.

The 13 councillors picked by new Catalan president Quim Torra, a close ally of ousted leader Carles Puigdemont, took oath in the regional presidency in Barcelona –some of them wearing yellow, the colour that has come to symbolise the separatist cause.

"Do you promise to faithfully fulfil the duties of the post you're taking on at the service of Catalonia in accordance with the law and with loyalty to Catalonia's regional president?", Torra asked each one. "Yes I promise," they responded to strong applause.

An empty chair with a yellow ribbon stood next to them to represent Catalan separatists who are in jail over their role in last autumn's independence push and those like Puigdemont who fled abroad.

Letters were read out by loved ones affected during a ceremony that saw several onlookers break down in tears.

TRT World speaks to journalist Marah Rayan.

Talking 'government to government'

Not even two hours after Sanchez had taken his oath to uphold the Spanish Constitution, Torra demanded to meet with Sanchez and speak "government to government" regarding the future of the restive northeastern region.

"Pedro Sanchez, let us talk, take risks, both you and I, let us sit down at a table and talk, government to government," Torra said after swearing in his Cabinet in Barcelona.

Sanchez, a 46-year-old economist who as opposition leader was sharply critical of Catalonia's independence bid, has promised to try to "build bridges" with the wealthy region's new separatist government.

End of political limbo 

The swearing-in ends months of political limbo in the wealthy northeastern region after the independence bid last October caused Spain's biggest political crisis in decades.

Under the terms of emergency legislation brought in to take over the Catalan administration, Madrid must lift direct rule once a Catalan government is fully formed and cabinet members are sworn in.

Spain's central government last month recognised the powers of newly-elected Catalan president Torra but refused to ratify his first choice of councillors because four of them face charges linked to the failed independence drive, calling their nomination "a new provocation".

Earlier this week, Torra nominated a new administration which did not include them, prompting Madrid to give its green light.

The 55-year-old former editor has been under pressure from some segments of his own separatist camp to adopt a more conciliatory stance to allow a new Catalan government to take office and end Madrid's direct rule.

Torra was chosen by Puigdemont to be Catalonia's next leader after separatist parties kept their absolute majority in regional elections in December.

The election result was a severe blow to the Spanish government which had called the polls in the hope of heading off the secessionist push in the region, which is home to around 7.5 million people and is about the size of Belgium.

Puigdemont is currently in Berlin awaiting potential extradition to Spain, where he faces jail on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies