Spain's state prosecutor summons Catalan mayors over independence vote

Spain's state prosecutor summons Catalan mayors over independence vote

Spain's state prosecutor summons Catalan mayors over independence vote

This handout picture released on September 11, 2017 by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly) shows an aerial view of people waving a giant "Estelada" (pro-independence Catalan flag) and a giant banner depicting a ballot box and reading in Catalan "Referendum is democracy" during a pro-independence demonstration, on September 11, 2017 in Barcelona during the National Day of Catalonia, the "Diada".

Despite pressure from Madrid, the head of Catalonia's regional government, Carles Puigdemont, told journalists on Monday that "It is not an option that the referendum won't go ahead".

Catalonia's public prosecutor has ordered the seizure of all ballot papers ahead of a banned independence referendum deemed illegal, reported BBC.

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.

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It has asked the 947 mayors in the northeastern region to provide voting facilities.

The pro-independence coalition governing Catalonia says the October 1 ballot will go ahead despite a ruling by Spain's Constitutional Court suspending the vote until judges can rule on its legality.

"They can arrest us, they're insane!", David Rovira, the pro-separatist mayor of L'Espluga de Francoli, a town of some 3,800 residents, told AFP by telephone, adding that Madrid had "proposed nothing" to appease Catalonia's demands for greater autonomy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has vowed to do everything in his power to stop the referendum.

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The Constitutional Court, Spain's highest authority on such matters, suspended the law while judges consider whether it is against the country's constitution.

Mr Rajoy said today: "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".

The king added that the rights of all Spaniards will be upheld against "whoever steps outside constitutional and statutory law".

Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy appealed to Catalans to ignore calls from independence supporters to turn out to vote.

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But Spain's economic worries, coupled with a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments and transfers from Madrid, have helped push the cause of secession from the fringes of Catalan politics to center stage.

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