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Tens Of Thousands Rally In Barcelona In Favor Of Unity With Spain

Spain's Rajoy Dissolves Catalonia's Government, Calls New Regional Elections
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WATCH: Spain's Rajoy Dissolves Catalonia's Government, Calls New Regional Elections

Tens of thousands of protesters are marching in in Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, for what is expected to be a major demonstration in favor of Spain's unity.

The rally on October 29 comes two days after the central government in Madrid stripped Catalonia of its autonomy following the regional parliament's decision to declare independence.

The Barcelona march organized by the pro-unity Catalan Civil Society (SCC) and backed by anti-independence parties started at 12 p.m. local time and was being held under the slogans "We are all Catalonia," "We are all Spain," and "We want to stay together."

Marchers waved Spanish national flags as they marched through Barcelona's city center.

The atmosphere was mostly festive, as many cheered politicians who joined the march.

A similar rally in favor of remaining a part of Spain attracted hundreds of thousands of people on October 8 in Barcelona.

Thousands of people have also rallied in support of independence since the Catalonian parliament voted 70-10 on October 27 in favor of a split with Spain. Opponents in the 135-seat house boycotted the vote.

Immediately after the vote, Spain's Senate voted 214-47 in favor of allowing Madrid to take direct control of Catalonia, depose the region's president, Carles Puigdemont, and remove the rest of his executives.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy then announced his government had taken direct control of Catalonia, dissolved its government, and set new regional elections for December 21.

Spain became engulfed in its deepest crisis in decades after Catalonia held an illegal independence referendum on October 1.

Catalonian authorities said some 90 percent of those who voted in the referendum chose independence. However, preelection surveys indicated a minority of 40 percent favored the split, and many opposed to independence boycotted the referendum.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont has called for "democratic opposition" to direct Spanish rule, and vowed to continue "working to build a free country."

Puigdemont made the call in a prerecorded TV address to Catalans broadcast on October 28.

Puigdemont said only the regional parliament can elect or dismiss the Catalonian government.

"The best way we have to defend the achievements to date is the democratic opposition to the application of Article 155," Puigdemont said in reference to the constitutional clause that gave Madrid direct control of affairs in Catalonia.

With reporting by AFP and BBC