UPDATED: Call for direct rule in Catalonia over separatist chaos, Sanchez to visit Barcelona
The leader of the Spanish opposition party Ciudadanos on Sunday demanded Madrid impose direct rule in Catalonia after days of separatist protests, as he led a pro-Spain counter demonstration in Barcelona.
Albert Rivera, the head of the centre-Right party, called on Spain’s Socialist Party government to end the “chaos”, suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and remove its president, Quim Torra, from office.
Violence has erupted on the streets of Barcelona for the sixth consecutive night, after the city’s mayor pleaded for calm over the protests.
Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said he would travel to Barcelona on Monday to visit police officers injured in protests that have rocked the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Protesters on Sunday took to the streets for the seventh successive night after Spain’s Supreme Court handed down sentences of up to 13 years in prison for nine Catalan separatist leaders.
Sanchez will also meet security forces in the northeastern region, his office said in a statement.
Protesters in the city have clashed with police every night since Monday – angry with the decision to jail pro-independence leaders for their role in Catalonia’s failed attempt to secede from Spain two years ago.
Friday and Saturday saw hundreds of thousands of pro-independence protesters take to the streets to oppose lengthy prison sentences given to organisers of that referendum.
On Saturday, Mayor Ada Colau said that Friday’s violence had been the worst so far, and called on protesters to calm down, saying: “This cannot continue. Barcelona does not deserve it.”
Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez faced sharp criticism Sunday for his handling of violent Catalan separatist protests in Barcelona and other cities.