Catalan separatists march in Barcelona calling for split from Spain | News | DW | 11.03.2018
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Catalan separatists march in Barcelona calling for split from Spain

Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets to call for a government that will work toward secession from Spain. But forming that government could be a tough job with many leaders in jail or out of the country.

Protesters marched through Barcelona on Sunday to express their support for the secession of Catalonia from Spain.

The march was organized by the leading pro-independence group, the Catalan National Assembly, which wants the three main separatist parties to agree on a new government and declare a Catalan Republic.

The demonstrators waved the Catalan flag and chanted "Republica, ara!" Catalan for "Republic Now," which was the slogan of the protest.

"What we are doing today is taking to the streets as citizens to demand that the republic we voted for in October continues forward," said rally organizer Agusti Alcoberro, referring to a disputed referendum that separatists say saw majority support for secession.

Read more: Protesters mock Catalan independence bid with secession call of their own

Protesters holding banner with Republica ara on it (AFP/Getty Images/P. Barrena)

The separatist drive in Catalonia has trigger Spain's worst crisis in decades

Difficult task

Pro-secession parties received a slim majority of the vote in December regional elections that were called by Madrid in the hope of weakening the separatist movement.

However, parties have so far failed to form a government despite drawn-out negotiations. The task is made more difficult by the fact that several leaders of the pro-secession movement remain in exile or in prison after the Spanish government cracked down on the separatists following their declaration of independence from Spain in October in violation of the country's constitution.

Catalonia's former-President Carles Puigdemont fled to Brussels after sedition charges were filed against him, and is not coming home out fo fear he will be arrested. His chosen successor, separatist leaders Jordi Sanchez, is in prison on sedition charges.

Sanchez has been ruled by a court as unable to take the Catalan presidency because he is not there in person to claim it.  

Banners showing Puigdemont (AFP/Getty Images/P. Barrena)

Some banners described Puigdemont as "our president"

Another of the leaders, former education chief Carla Ponsati, has moved to Scotland from Belgium, saying on Saturday she was returning to teaching at the University of St. Andrews. Ponsati, who fled to Belgium along with Puigdemont and three other former Cabinet members, faces arrest if she returns to Spain.

Polls show that Catalans are equally divided on the issue of secession.

Read more: In Catalonia, language and identity go hand in hand

tj/sms (dpa, AP)

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