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Spain sends more police to Catalonia to block referendum

Spain sends more police to Catalonia to block referendum

The leader of Catalonia's regional government, Carles Puigdemont, said on Thursday his administration would push on with a banned October 1 referendum on a split from Spain, in defiance of a court order banning the vote. They include Josep Maria Jove, the secretary general of economic affairs for the region and No. 2 to the region's vice president, Oriol Junqueras.

In Barcelona, several thousand protesters flooded the streets for a second day running after police detained key members of the team organizing the October 1 vote.

Civil Guard police this week arrested around a dozen regional government officials and seized about 10 million ballot papers.

An Interior Ministry statement said the extra police will provide backing for Catalan regional police who are also under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.

The interior ministry has not disclosed how many more police officers it is sending to the region but Spanish media said between 3,000 and 4,000 had already arrived or were on their way. They occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university officials.

Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote

Many who do not support independence say they are scared to speak out and no longer feel comfortable in their own country. But Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out it out for now, saying the United Kingdom needed certainty, stability, and strong leadership following last year's referendum, in which 52 percent of Britons voted leave the EU.

The political uncertainty in Catalonia has reportedly forced the country's government to postpone its push in parliament to approve the 2018 budget as Spain's Basque nationalist party (PNV) has, for the time being at least, apparently threatened to withdraw its support.

The Catalan National Assembly civic group has called for the protests to continue until the regional officials are released.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution, and the Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.


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