Spain marks na­tional day with show of unity amid Cata­lan cri­sis

The Hitavada - - WORLD -

SPAIN marks its na­tional day on Thurs­day with a show of unity by op­po­nents of Cat­alo­nian in­de­pen­dence, a day af­ter the Cen­tral Govern­ment gave the re­gion’s sep­a­ratist leader un­til next week to clar­ify whether he in­tends to push ahead with se­ces­sion.

The coun­try is in the midst of its worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in a gen­er­a­tion af­ter sep­a­ratists in the wealthy north-east­ern re­gion voted in a banned ref­er­en­dum on Oc­to­ber 1 to split from Spain.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy and King Felipe VI are due to at­tend a tra­di­tional mil­i­tary pa­rade in cen­tral Madrid, where Spanish flags have been tied to bal­conies and win­dows around the city by pro-unity sup­port­ers on the na­tion-wide hol­i­day.

Armed forces will march down Madrid’s Paseo de la Castel­lana boule­vard to mark the day that Christo­pher Colum­bus first ar­rived in the Amer­i­cas in 1492 while a pro-unity rally by mem­bers of the far-right is ex­pected in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal Barcelona.

Ra­joy has vowed to do ev­ery­thing in his power to pre­vent Cata­lan se­ces­sion and his Govern­ment said on Wed­nes­day that it would take con­trol of the re­gion if it in­sisted on break­ing away. The warn­ing came af­ter Cat­alo­nia’s Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont an­nounced Tues­day that he had ac­cepted the man­date for “Cat­alo­nia to be­come an in­de­pen­dent state” and signed an in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion.

The le­gal va­lid­ity of the dec­la­ra­tion was un­clear. Af­ter hold­ing an emer­gency cabi­net meet­ing, Ra­joy told law­mak­ers that Puigde­mont had un­til next Mon­day to de­cide if he planned to push ahead with se­ces­sion and un­til next Thurs­day to re­con­sider, oth­er­wise Madrid would sus­pend Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional au­ton­omy.

The dead­line set the clock tick­ing on Spain’s most se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal emer­gency since its re­turn to democ­racy four decades ago.

World lead­ers are watch­ing closely and un­cer­tainty over the fate of the re­gion of 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple has dam­aged busi­ness con­fi­dence, with sev­eral listed firms al­ready mov­ing their le­gal head­quar­ters out of Cat­alo­nia.


A construction worker looks at a new apart­ment block draped in a giant Spanish flag in a sub­urb of Madrid on Wed­nes­day dur­ing its na­tional day cel­e­bra­tions.

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