Spain Catalonia: Madrid mass protest over talks policy

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Protesters gather in Colon square, Madrid - 10 February
Image captionThe protesters object to the government’s policy on talks with the separatists

Thousands are in central Madrid for a protest by centre-right parties opposed to a plan by the Spanish government to ease tension in the Catalonia region.

The Popular Party and Cuidadanos (Citizens) called the protest after PM Pedro Sanchez said he would appoint a rapporteur for talks with separatists.

They consider the appointment a betrayal and surrender to separatist pressure, and want early elections.

Like the right, the ruling Socialists also oppose Catalan independence.

Far-right groups including the Vox party are also present at the protest, held under the slogan “For a united Spain. Elections now!”

Woman at the protest
Vox President Santiago Abascal at the rally
Image captionThe far-right Vox party is also part of the protest – its president Santiago Abascal seen here

Catalan nationalists regained power in Barcelona in May, after a seven-month period of direct rule by Madrid.

Tensions remain high, as many Catalans resent Madrid’s show of force last year, when it charged pro-independence leaders with sedition.

Mr Sánchez heads a minority government that depends on nationalists – including Catalans – to stay in power, but he has ruled out any new Catalan referendum on independence.

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