Spain threatens to arrest 700 Catalan mayors over independence vote

by Dwayne Torres September 14, 2017, 0:36
Spain threatens to arrest 700 Catalan mayors over independence vote

September 11 marks the 'Diada, ' Catalonia's national day, which commemorates the fall of Barcelona to Spain in 1714 and is traditionally used by pro-independence activists to call for secession for the northeastern region with a distinct language.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government is increasing the pressure to prevent an independence referendum, scheduled for October 1, from going ahead.

This latest order comes amid growing tension between Madrid and Barcelona because of a proposed independence referendum on October 1, which has been deemed illegal by Spanish courts.

Police were ordered on Tuesday to seize ballot boxes, along with election flyers or any item that could be used in the banned referendum, AFP reported.

The mayors in question have all publicly pledged their support for the referendum and they represent around 75 percent of all Catalan mayors.

Officials engaging in any preparations for the vote could face charges of civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds, the letter said.

The Constitutional Court had already suspended the law and decree calling for a referendum on secession while it considers the national government's claim that it is unconstitutional.

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Spain's King Felipe VI also entered the fray on Wednesday, stepping up the pressure on Catalonia by vowing that the Spanish constitution "will prevail" over any attempt to break the country apart.

The referendum, which was approved in the separatist-dominated regional parliament, has been suspended by Spain's constitutional court but Catalan leaders have vowed to hold it regardless.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy's government were granted a suspension by the Constitutional Court while judges decide on the legality of the poll.

"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", Mr Rajoy said.

Around one million Catalans rallied in Barcelona on Monday, waving red and yellow striped flags and banging drums, in a show of support for independence after Madrid moved to block a referendum on the region's split from Spain.

Spain's economic troubles and a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments from Madrid have helped push the secessionist movement.


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