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12:08, 12 October 2017

Catalonia: Spain celebrates National Day amid political turmoil

AKIPRESS.COM - Spain is preparing to celebrate its National Day amid a continuing political crisis sparked by Catalonia's disputed independence referendum.

The public display of unity comes a day after PM Mariano Rajoy told parliament the country was facing the most serious threat to its 40-year-old democracy, BBC reported.

He has given Catalonia's separatist leader five days to clarify whether or not he has declared independence.

Spain has threatened to impose direct rule on the autonomous region.

The National Day is a public holiday and commemorates the re-unification of Spain and Christopher Columbus's first arrival in the Americas in 1492.

Parades will take place in the capital Madrid with King Felipe and Mr Rajoy expected to attend. Other events will be held across the country.

But this year's event comes amid turmoil sparked by the 1 October referendum in Catalonia, declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Catalan officials say almost 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%. Anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot and there were reports of irregularities.


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