Barcelona prepares to rally as Spanish government meets to impose direct rule

BARCELONA, SPAIN (OCTOBER 21, 2017) (REUTERS) – Independence supporters were due to rally in the Catalan capital Barcelona on Saturday (October 21) afternoon, as the Spanish cabinet was meeting to decide how it will impose direct rule on Catalonia and thwart a drive by the autonomous region to breakaway from Spain.

It will be the first time in Spain’s four decades of democracy that the central government has invoked the constitutional right to take control of a region and rule it directly from Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who heads the wealthy northeastern region’s government, has broken the law several times in pushing for independence, thus justifying the imposition of central government control.

The independence push has brought on Spain’s worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981 several years after the end of the Franco dictatorship. It has met with strong opposition across the rest of Spain, divided Catalonia itself, and raised the prospect of prolonged street protests

Activist organisations ANC and Omnium have called on their supporters to rally at 1500 GMT in Barcelona, the region’s principal city, in protest at the jailing of their leaders over sedition accusations.

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