Saturday, June 23, 2018
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Catalans occupy polling stations ahead of referendum

Pro-secession supporters camp out at Barcelona schools to defy Madrid authorities before Sunday's independence vote.

Supporters of an independence referendum in Catalonia have begun occupying polling stations in a bid to ensure Sunday's vote goes ahead, as thousands gathered in Barcelona for the separatist camp's final rally.

Spain's central government in Madrid, which opposes the referendum, has sent thousands of police reinforcements to the Catalonian capital of Barcelona to stop people from voting.

A court on Wednesday ordered police to prevent the use of public buildings "for the preparation and organisation" of the referendum.

But as classes ended for the day, small groups of activists, including parents with their children, on Friday peacefully occupied several schools in Barcelona where voting is scheduled to take place.

"We want to make sure the school is open for activities and at night when they might come to clear us out or empty it, there will be families sleeping or people in the street," Hector, a 43-year-old local, told Reuters news agency.

"I am going to sleep here, with my oldest son who is a student here," Gisela Losa, a mother of three, told AFP news agency at Reina Vionant primary school in Barcelona's Gracia neighbourhood.

The head of the Catalan regional police has ordered officers to evacuate and close polling stations by 6 am on Sunday, before the voting is due to open at 9 am.

Madrid has repeatedly warned those who help stage a referendum which the courts have ruled unconstitutional that they face repercussions.

Spain's education ministry said in a statement on Friday that school directors in Catalonia "were not exempt from liability" if they cooperated.

The Catalan government says 2,315 polling stations are ready for the October 1 vote.  

Final rally 

On Friday evening, about 10,000 supporters of the referendum gathered off Barcelona's Placa d'Espanya, or Spain Square. 

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said regardless of how many people actually cast the ballots, if a majority say "yes", he will declare independence on Tuesday. 

"In these hugely intense and hugely emotional moments, we sense that what we once thought was only a dream is within reach," Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told a cheering crowd.

"On Sunday, we have a date with the future."


READ MORE: Catalan leader accuses Spain of 'totalitarian' actions


Catalonia's foreign affairs chief Raul Romeva said on Friday the referendum "is impossible to stop" despite the central government in Madrid insisting that the vote is illegal and it will not happen.

Opinion polls show Catalonia's roughly 7.5 million residents are divided on independence.

A survey commissioned by the regional government in July showed 49.4 percent of Catalans were against independence while 41.1 percent were in favour.

More than 70 percent of Catalans want a legal referendum on independence to settle the issue.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Central European countries to boycott Brussels' migration meeting

Read More

UK's Theresa May comes out against US child separation policy

Read More

Italy's Salvini causes outrage over Roma census plan

Read More

May 2018 was the world’s 'fourth-warmest' May on record

Read More

Bosnian police block migrants from reaching EU member Croatia

Read More

Germany: Interior minister gives Merkel ultimatum on migrants

Read More

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Week in Pictures

Ramadan begins

2018 World Cup