#CatalanCrisis: Spanish PM Rajoy vows to end "separatist havoc"
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy's iron will has steered Madrid's tough handling of the ongoing Catalan crisis. As sentiments are run high around the issue, Rajoy visited Catalonia for the first time since he imposed direct rule on the region. He defended his decision and said that the upcoming Catalan snap elections would help end the "separatist havoc" in the region. Here's more about it.
What was the Catalan independence referendum?
On October 1, Catalan leaders held a referendum in defiance of Madrid to ascertain whether its population backed independence from Spain. 90% of 2.2 million voters, who amounted to 40% of Catalonia's population backed independence. Madrid deployed its police forces to forcibly prevent voting. The crackdown left 900 people injured. Numerous anti-Spain protests erupted afterward, with organizations including FC Barcelona backing Catalan independence.
Spanish PM dissolves Catalan parliament after independence declaration
On October 28, PM Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament after MPs voted to declare independence from Spain. Rajoy had earlier warned Catalonia that Madrid would move to suspend the region's autonomy. He dismissed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet. The Catalan crisis erupted after its leaders defied a Constitutional Court ruling to hold an independence referendum.
Rajoy: 'We must reclaim Catalonia from the havoc of separatism'
Rajoy spoke to an audience in Barcelona as a part of his Popular Party's campaign ahead of the upcoming Catalan snap elections. He called on the "silent majority" to participate in elections and "convert their voices into votes." Rajoy further stressed that Spain must reclaim Catalonia "from the havoc of separatism." "With democracy, we want to reclaim Catalonia for everyone," he added.
Meanwhile, thousands protested against the Spanish government in Barcelona
While Rajoy was addressing a crowd of faithful supporters, thousands took to Barcelona's streets to protest the detention of former Catalan cabinet members. The protesters declared "we are a republic" and held signs that said the detainees were "political prisoners" and asked Spain to free them. Madrid had charged pro-independence leaders, including Puigdemont with offenses such as sedition and rebellion.