Rajoy in Barcelona for first Catalonia visit since direct rule


BARCELONA: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will on Sunday visit Catalonia for the first time since Madrid imposed direct rule on the region, a day after hundreds of thousands of Catalans marched to demand the release of jailed regional officials. Mariano Rajoy is expected in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, at 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) to show support for his Popular Party’s campaign ahead of a vote next month. His visit comes two weeks after he dismissed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, his government and the parliament, suspended the region’s autonomy and called for new elections there on December 21. On Saturday hundreds of thousands of Catalans protested the jailing of regional officials for their push for independence from Spain, which has left the country mired in a political crisis. The demonstrators gathered on an avenue next to the regional parliament building waving Catalan independence flags and chanting “Freedom!” while some held up banners announcing: “SOS Democracy.”



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