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    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy holds a news conference at Moncloa palace in Madrid November 12, 2014

    Unity of Spain Not to Be Challenged: Spanish PM

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    In his first appearance in Catalonia since a symbolic vote on independence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slammed Catalan leader Artur Mas for his secession plan, claiming that Madrid 'will not allow challenges to the unity of Spain.'

    MOSCOW, November 29 (Sputnik) —  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has blasted Catalan leader Artur Mas for his 18-month secession plan dubbing it a 'trip to nowhere,' in his first appearance in Catalonia since a symbolic vote on independence held on November 9.

    "I will not allow challenges to the unity of Spain. No one should have to choose between being Catalan or Spanish," Rajoy said on Saturday addressing his supporters in Barcelona and stressing that he "would not allow any challenge to national unity," Agence France-Presse reported.

    The Spanish Prime Minister emphasized that Catalan independence proponents constitute a minority of the region's population and criticized Artur Mas, who is currently focused on organizing early elections, "for neglecting day-to-day governance while conducting a series of votes related to secession," the Wall Street Journal underscores. "Never in history has a leader wasted so much time, generated so much confusion and provoked such instability," claimed Mariano Rajoy.

    Mr. Rajoy pointed to the fact that only a third of all eligible voters of the region took part in the unofficial referendum, while the majority of those opposing Catalonia's secession stayed at home. He reminded Catalans that Madrid had repeatedly provided the region with financial assistance since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis.

    On Friday, November 28, the Spanish public prosecutor filed suits against Artur Mas and two other Catalan government's top officials for holding unofficial referendum in defiance of a constitutional court injunction.

    Meanwhile, Artur Mas is preparing for early elections, which he considers "the only way" to allow Catalans to express their opinion:

    "We need to know with precision if there is a clear majority in Catalonia to have a state or not," Mr. Mas said as cited by Agence France-Presse.
    The media outlet notes that although 2.3 million voters said "Yes" to Catalonia's independence, secessionists intend to gain the majority of support in order to separate from Spain. Currently, opinion is divided with 50 percent for and 50 percent against secession, but "estimates fluctuate," Agence France-Presse underscores, citing latest opinion polls results.

    Catalan Independence Poll Results
    Catalan Independence Poll Results

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    independence, Mariano Rajoy, Artur Mas, Catalonia, Spain
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