Spanish PM vows to end Catalonia havoc

Mr  Rajoy (l) joined the leader of his  party in Catalonia for campaigning on Sunday

Mr Rajoy (l) joined the leader of his party in Catalonia for campaigning on Sunday

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said regional elections next month in Catalonia will help end “separatist havoc” in the north-eastern region.
He addressed a campaign event on his first visit there since imposing direct rule on the region a fortnight ago.
Defending his decision in Barcelona, he said he had “exhausted all roads” after the Catalan government’s unilateral declaration of independence last month.
Several key Catalan leaders are currently being detained over the move.
Some 750,000 people protested in Barcelona on Saturday against the arrests, local police estimated.
The crisis was sparked by a disputed referendum held in Catalonia in October, which had been barred by the Spanish courts.
Catalan officials said the independence campaign won 92 per cent of the vote, from a turnout of 43 per cent.
Many of those who were against independence did not cast votes, refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the referendum.
The Catalan government subsequently declared independence.
In response, the Spanish government dissolved the region’s parliament, imposed direct rule, and called a snap regional election on December 21.
Speaking at a campaign event in Barcelona for his Popular Party (PP) on Sunday, Mr Rajoy called on the participation of the “silent majority” to “convert their voice into a vote”.
“We must reclaim Catalonia from the havoc of separatism,” he added, saying: “With democracy, we want to reclaim Catalonia for everyone.”
He told PP supporters that the right result would boost Spain’s economic growth next year to above 3 per cent.
He called on companies not to leave the region, after hundreds of firms moved their headquarters away amid uncertainty over the region – which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy.
He also urged people in Spain to continue buying Catalan products.

Since the crackdown by Madrid, Catalonia’s sacked President Carles Puigdemont has gone into self-imposed exile in Belgium, and his top allies have been prosecuted.
Thousands took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday calling on Spain to free the ministers, as well as two grassroots campaign leaders being detained.
They marched behind a banner declaring, “We are a republic”, and carried placards that said the detainees were political prisoners.
The sacked former ministers are accused of alleged rebellion and sedition, while the two activists were arrested over a mass protest before the referendum. -BBC

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