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[Published: Sunday February 10 2019]
 Mass protest in Madrid over Catalonia talks
MADRID 10 Feb (ANA) - Tens of thousands gathered in Madrid for a protest by right-wing parties opposed to a Spanish government plan to ease tension in the Catalonia region.
The centre-right Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Citizens) called the protest after PM Pedro Sánchez offered separatists a rapporteur for talks.
The right considers the offer a betrayal and surrender. The separatists have rejected the offer anyway.
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.
Protesters filled the Spanish capital's Colon Square and nearby streets, many of them chanting "long live Spain" or singing along to taped music, including songs by Tom Jones and Lady Gaga.
Police put the total number of demonstrators at 45,000.
They are objecting to an offer made by the government to separatists in recent days to hold round table talks and appoint a special rapporteur, which they consider to be a capitulation.
They also want elections currently scheduled for 2020 to be brought forward.
One protester, Mabel Campuzano, told Reuters news agency that Mr Sánchez was "betraying Spain and we think that Spaniards don't deserve him as the president of the government".
In a speech to the crowds, PP leader Pablo Casado denounced Mr Sánchez's policies as "Socialist surrender" and "deals under the table", Efe news agency reported.
"Sánchez's time is over," Mr Casado said, adding that the protests were a turning point and the beginning of a return to "harmony and legality" in Spain.(ANA)
FA/ANA/10 February 2019--------

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