M - Up to a million Catalans have gathered in Barcelona to call for independence less than three weeks before the region is due to hold a vote on whether to break away from Spain, The Guardian reported. Protesters said they hoped the vote would go ahead as planned on October 1. Around one million people took part in the event, Barcelona's municipal police said in a Twitter post.
"The theme of today's protest is "Diada of the Yes", Ines Arrimadas, the leader in Catalonia of the anti-independence Ciudadanos party, said on Spanish television.
The Constitutional Court, Spain's highest authority on such matters, suspended the law while judges consider whether it is against the country's constitution.
Prosecutors have already launched an official complaint against Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and members of his government over their referendum plans, accusing them of civil disobedience, misfeasance and misappropriation of public funds - the latter carrying jail sentences of up to eight years. However, a majority of Catalans want to vote on the issue. Polls suggest that the attitude of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is bolstering the nationalist cause. The regional leader is allowed to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a "yes" vote, even if it is the result of a low turnout.
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"I trust they will be left in peace and not be obliged to do what they can not", Catala told RTVE television.
Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended a referendum law that was fast-tracked through Catalonia's regional parliament last week but the Catalan government has vowed to go ahead with the vote nonetheless. Catalan society is deeply divided over independence.
The law regulated the exit of Catalonia from Spain in case if the voters support the independence of the region on the referendum set for October 1.
The following year the demonstration took the shape of a giant "V" for "vote" down two of the main avenues of Barcelona.
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