We will halt this Catalan split, warns Spain's PM

We will halt this Catalan split, warns Spain's PM

Catalan officials said that people voted overwhelmingly for secession in the ballot, which was declared illegal by the government and was marked by police violence against independence supporters.

As Catalonia weighs unilaterally declaring independence from Spain, France is warning the region what it could lose if it walks away from negotiations.

They waved Spanish and Catalan flags and carried banners saying "Together we are stronger" and "Catalonia is Spain".

Leaders in Catalonia are facing increasing domestic and worldwide pressure to abandon plans to declare independence from Spain, ahead of a planned speech by Catalonia's regional president.

But there was intense speculation on Monday about whether Puigdemont would go ahead with such a provocative move - particularly in the light of a huge rally against independence in Barcelona at the weekend that exposed deep misgivings about his tactics among some sections of Catalan society.

However, hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for anti-independence rallies, including in Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, since the vote.

Thomas says that the "powerful" show of support for unity means that a declaration of independence may not be well received.

Police say about 350,000 demonstrators attended an anti-independence protest on Sunday.

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Puigdemont, a former journalist and not a career politician, said he is not afraid of going to jail over independence.

The stand-off has raised concerns for stability in the European Union as it continues to grapple with Britain's planned exit from the bloc.

The Spanish Government announced a decree on Friday that makes it easier for companies to leave Catalonia and move their headquarters to other places in Spain as the decision would not need to be passed by the shareholder meeting, unless the company's statutes say the opposite.

Mr Rajoy told Catalan leaders that there is still time to backtrack and avoid Madrid taking over the region's government.

Kofi Annan, in his role as chairman of The Elders, a group of notable public figures formed in 2007 to promote peace, said: "The constitutional crisis that is unfolding in Spain calls for consultation and not confrontation".

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is expected to address the regional Parliament on Tuesday as there was no sign of a compromise with Madrid.

With its own language and cultural traditions, demands for independence in Catalonia date back centuries but have surged during recent years of economic hardship. It is home to 7.5 million people and accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economy.

Turnout was 43 percent as Catalans who reject independence largely boycotted the poll.