Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said that next month’s snap elections in Cataluña will help end “the havoc of separatism” in the troubled region.
His comments came during a first visit to Barcelona since his government imposed direct rule a fortnight ago.
Rajoy was in the Catalan capital on Sunday to address a campaign meeting and show support for his centre-right Popular Party ahead of the poll.
He said that he had “exhausted all roads” after the Catalan government led by Carles Puigdemont issued a unilateral declaration of independence at the end of October, and called on the “silent majority” to “convert their voice into a vote.”
“We will never let anyone break the ties that bind us,” he added. “We must recover Cataluña from the havoc of separatism.”
The address followed a rally in protest at the jailing of eight former cabinet members and two activists which saw an estimated 750,000 people take to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday.
Earlier, ex-parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell and five other former lawmakers were released on bail after being quizzed by a Supreme Court judge.
Sacked leader Carles Puigdemont remains in Belgium and must appear in a Belgian court on November 17 as a judge deliberates over a European Arrest Warrant issued in his name.