Madrid, MINA – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited Catalonia on Sunday for the first time since a political crisis broke out over the region’s push for independence.
Rajoy was in Catalonia to support candidates of his People’s Party in December elections called by the central government in Madrid after it had annulled the independence vote.
“Catalonia is Spain and Spain is Catalonia,” DPA reported, citing Rajoy as telling party members in Barcelona.
Catalonia’s regional government had gone ahead with an October 1 referendum on independence despite Spanish authorities deeming it illegal.
After the disputed vote, and amid high tensions with Barcelona, the Madrid government invoked a never-before-used article of the Spanish constitution to remove powers from the regional government.
The leaders behind the vote are now in detention – awaiting trial on rebellion and another charges – or in Brussels pending an extradition decision.
A majority of Catalans are thought to be against independence, and Rajoy urged the so-called “silent majority” to cast their ballots in the vote on December 21.
An overwhelming majority of those who voted in the referendum called for independence, but the vote was mostly boycotted by those who want to stay in Spain.
Hundreds of thousands of people held a protest in Barcelona on Saturday to demand the release of eight members of the deposed Catalan government, calling the Spanish authorities an “occupying power.” (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)