Rajoy to visit Barcelona after separatist protesters flood city streets

CAMPAIGN VISIT: Mariano Rajoy. CAMPAIGN VISIT: Mariano Rajoy. Shutterstock

SPANISH Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will today visit Barcelona for the first time since his government dissolved the Catalan parliament.

He will lead a meeting of his centre-right Popular Party and show support for their campaign ahead of next month's regional election.

It comes after hundreds of thousands of pro-independence supporters took to the streets on Saturday to protest the imprisonment of their former leaders.

An estimated 750,000 people wore yellow ribbons in support of the jailed lawmakwers, while members of their families gave speeches.

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SET THEM FREE: Saturday's protest in Barcelona.

Eight former cabinet members and two activists remain locked up as their alleged involvement in October's illegal referendum and declaration of independence are probed

Five other separatists have been released on bail while ex-leader Carles Puigdemont and four alllies remain in exile in Belgium.

The Spanish government responded to the latter by sacking the pro-independence politicians, imposing direct rule on Cataluña and calling a snap election on December 21.

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