1 million join rally for Catalan independence

14 September, 2017, 00:35 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • APTOPIX Spain Catalonia

The following day, the Constitutional Court of Spain suspended the new law.

A Spanish court has suspended a Catalan law that outlined a legal framework for an independent state, a court source said on Tuesday, the day after hundreds of thousands rallied in Barcelona to support secession from Madrid.

However, this year's event had particular significance as a show of strength for the independence movement just three weeks ahead of a referendum on the issue which Madrid has declared illegal and taken steps to obstruct in the courts. It suspended a law approving the October 1 vote last week.

Those against independence complained that a day meant for all Catalans had been hijacked by the separatists - and even more so this year ahead of the referendum.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is fighting to stop the ballot and he appealed to Catalans to ignore calls from independence supporters to turn out.

If the "Yes" side wins the vote, Catalonia's regional government has vowed to declare independence within 48 hours and set about building a sovereign state.

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Many supporting the referendum argue that full sovereignty for Catalonia will benefit the region, especially amid the high unemployment rate and austerity measures that followed Spain's economic crisis, Jonathan Shafi, chairman of Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), told RT earlier this week.

It has asked the 947 mayors in the northeastern region to provide voting facilities.

Police have searched a Catalan printing house and a local weekly newspaper suspected of making ballots for the referendum, while Spain's state prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings against Puigdemont and other Catalan officials.

"If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don't go, because the referendum can't take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act", the prime minister said.

As tensions over the independence referendum reach record heights, Spain's King Felipe VI made his first public statement since Catalonia's government passed a bill in their parliament that details the referendum and established an "exception judicial regime" in the wealthy north-eastern region of Spain.

Catalonia, roughly the same size as Belgium, has its own language and customs, and already has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.

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