Friday, 27 October 2017 09:47
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People gather outside the Catalan parliament in support for a unilateral declaration of independence, in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said Thursday he considered calling a snap election, but was choosing not to because he didn’t receive enough guarantees that the government’s “abusive” moves to take control of Catalonia would be suspended. People gather outside the Catalan parliament in support for a unilateral declaration of independence, in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said Thursday he considered calling a snap election, but was choosing not to because he didn’t receive enough guarantees that the government’s “abusive” moves to take control of Catalonia would be suspended. Santi Palacios/Associated Press

BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local): Several thousand protesters have gathered near Catalonia’s regional parliament before a debate in the legislature where independence from Spain might formally be declared.

Waving Catalan flags and chanting “independence” and “freedom,” the demonstrators rallied outside the park in which parliament is located, hoping to see the proclamation of a new independent state by the end of the day.

A 68-year-old protester, Jordi Soler, says that “I am here today because we will start the Catalan Republic.”

Soler said that “today is the last chance,” noting that Catalan president Carles Puigdemont had offered to negotiate with the central government in Madrid, “but Madrid is starting with total repression and there is no longer any (other) option.”

Puigdemont on Thursday ruled out calling a regional election, which might have somewhat defused Spain’s worst political crisis in decades, setting the stage for a showdown with Madrid.

10:45 a.m.

Spain’s prime minister says that the special powers that the central government wants to impose in Catalonia aren’t meant to take away liberties of Catalans but to protect them.

Mariano Rajoy was addressing the Senate ahead of a vote on whether to activate constitutional powers to seize control of Catalonia’s autonomous powers in a bid to halt the region’s independence bid.

Rajoy says that Spain is facing a challenge not seen in its recent history. Catalonia’s regional parliament is also expected to hold a special session later Friday in which a formal declaration of independence may be made.

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10:25 a.m.

Spain’s prime minister says the government’s first move will be to dismiss Catalonia’s president if special powers are granted by the country’s Senate.

Mariano Rajoy was addressing the chamber ahead of a vote on whether to activate constitutional powers to seize control of Catalonia’s autonomous powers in a bid to halt the region’s independence bid.

Rajoy says if the measures are approved, Spain’s government will fire Catalonia regional President Carles Puigdemont and his ministers.

The Spanish leader said “what is happening in Catalonia is “a clear violation of the laws, of democracy, of the rights of all, and that has consequences.”

Rajoy said that the measures were the only way out of the crisis. Catalonia’s regional parliament is also expected to hold a special session later Friday in which a formal declaration of independence may be made.

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10 a.m.

Spain’s Senate has begun a crucial meeting to approve the Spanish government’s plans to strip away Catalonia’s regional powers and halt it pushing toward independence.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was greeted with applause as he entered the chamber Friday.

The government’s proposals include removing the Catalan government’s regional leaders from office and curtailing the authority of the region’s parliament.

Meanwhile, up in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, the regional parliament was to resume debating its response to the Spanish government’s plans.

The Catalan government rejects the move and there is speculation the parliament may actually take the step of declaring independence from Spain later Friday, setting the stage for a deepening clash between both sides.

Two crucial meetings will take place in Spain that could decide the short-term future of a country undergoing its worst political crisis in decades.

Catalonia’s parliament on Friday will resume debating its response to the Spanish government’s plans to strip away its regional powers to halt it pushing toward independence. But in Madrid, Spain’s Senate meets to approve the government’s plans and set the intervention in motion.

The government’s proposals include removing the Catalan government’s regional leaders from office and curtailing the authority of the region’s parliament.

The Catalan government rejects the move and there is speculation the regional parliament may actually take the step of declaring independence from Spain later Friday.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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