March 20 2018

Thousands gather in Madrid to defend Spanish constitution

March 20 2018, 11:41 | Ann Lamb

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"I don't rule out anything", Rajoy told daily newspaper El Pais on Sunday when asked about applying the constitutional provision that allows the suspension. I would like the threat of an independence declaration to be withdrawn as quickly as possible.

Many showed their support for a peaceful solution following the clashes with police by dressing in white, carrying doves and signs calling for talks to resolve Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

Real Madrid veteran Ramos said he believed the king's speech had been "necessary for all Spanish people".

The leaders of the Companies within the catalan government, Santi Vila, deemed close to the regional president, has called for a " cease-fire ".

Earlier, a Spanish government official offered the first apology to Catalans injured by police during their outlawed independence vote.

Mariano Rajoy has warned of "greater damage" if Catalan separatists go ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence.

Josep Lluís Trapero appeared in the Spanish capital along with two leading figures in the Catalan independence movement.

Pro-Catalonian independence protesters lift up a ballot box in Barcelona in September.

The crisis has raised fears of unrest in the northeastern region, a tourist-friendly area of 7.5 million people that accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.

"Look, I am saying that the Civil Guard and the National Police will stay in Catalonia as long as things do not return to normal", he said, without giving any timeline on the deployment.

Another group called "Let's Talk" urged citizens to gather dressed in white in front of town halls, demanding dialogue to end the crisis under the slogan: "Spain is better than its leaders".

However, Spain's constitutional court has already put a ban on a similar session planned for Monday, and says that any session seen to violate the rights of MPs who oppose the split from Spain would be "null" and parliament's leaders could face criminal action if they ignore the order.

It has introduced a series of measures this week to stymie the want away government's ambitions, including making it easier for businesses to move their headquarters outside of the region.

Catalonia's regional president, Carles Puigdemont, has vowed that he will make good on the results of last Sunday's disputed referendum on secession won by the Yes side.

Spain considers the referendum, which returned a 90 percent vote in favour of secession, to be illegal based on Spain's 1978 constitution.

Tensions between Madrid and the separatists in power in Catalonia since the beginning of 2016 have plunged the country into its most serious political crisis since its return to democracy in 1977.

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