Pro-Spain supporters set for big Catalonia demo

Anti-independence protesters who want Catalonia to remain part of Spain will take to the streets of Barcelona later as the country remains mired in a constitutional crisis.

It comes after the northeastern region declared independence, prompting Spain’s prime minister to invoke emergency measures never used before.

Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalonia parliament, sacked the head of the police force and called new elections for 21 December.

Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria was put in charge of the rebel region.

Sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

Catalans told to peacefully oppose Spain takeover

Catalonia’s disputed president, Carles Puigdemont, who could be jailed for 30 years over ‘rebellion’ charges, has urged people to oppose Spain’s imposition of direct rule peacefully.

“It’s very clear that the best form of defending the gains made up until now is democratic opposition to Article 155,” he said.

Despite saying it will soon file charges against him, the Spanish government has said it would welcome his participation in the new elections.

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Cheers as Catalonia declares Spain split

:: ‘Silent majority’ having to find their voice

Pro-independence supporters celebrated and waved flags in the streets after the Catalan parliament finally made the declaration on Friday.

Some pro-Spain demonstrators also turned out – but Sunday is their turn to put on a big public display to grab the headlines.

The rally will start around midday and is going under the slogan “Catalonia is all of us!”

Demonstrators' placards read 'Puigdemont to prison' (L) and 'No law, no democracy' (R)
Demonstrators’ placards read ‘Puigdemont to prison’ (L) and ‘No law, no democracy’ (R)

A similar event in the city on 8 October drew hundreds of thousands to the streets.

Representatives from three Catalan opposition parties will be among the crowds, including from Mr Rajoy’s Popular Party.

An anti-independence protest in Madrid on Saturday drew several thousand people to Plaza Colon as the song Y viva Espana (Long Live Spain) blared out.

Catalonia's parliament has voted to split from Spain

Latest: What happens next?

Meanwhile, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has tried to play down the significance of his team playing away at Girona on Sunday – the city is a bastion of the Catalan independence movement.

Spain arrived at its constitutional crisis after the Catalan government held an illegal referendum on breaking from Spain on 1 October.

Marred by police violence, regional officials said more than 90% of people had voted to go it alone, on a turnout of 43%.

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Catalonia crisis explained

The wealthy region of 7.5 million has its own language and distinct culture – which was repressed under the Franco regime.

It enjoyed considerable autonomy before direct rule was reimposed.

Many Catalans also say they contribute more to the Spanish economy than they get back.

Spain’s government is taking an extremely tough stance to ward off similar independence ambitions from regions such as Galicia and the Basque country.

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