Tensions run high as Catalonia prepares for disputed independence vote

Catalonia [Spain], October 1 : Multitudes of supporters of Catalan independence maintained their standoff with the Spanish government on Saturday as they prepared to hold a fiercely disputed referendum.

Several parents occupied the schools in a bid to prevent police from restricting access to their use Sunday as polling stations.

The actions and reactions have come a day after huge crowds massed in Barcelona, the regional capital, for a final campaign rally by independence supporters.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont called on the people to vote despite the obstacles. "We are people who have experience with difficulties, and every difficultly makes us stronger. Friends, so that victory is definite, on Sunday, let's dress up in referendum (clothes) and leave home prepared to change history, to end the process and start progress, social progress, economic progress and cultural and national progress," he said.

Notably, Spain's central government has issued stern warnings against the referendum. The country's apex court has even barred as unconstitutional. Public support for the referendum within Catalonia has become increasingly vocal as the vote has neared.

Meanwhile, across the region, 2,315 polling stations are expected to open, mostly inside schools. More than 5.3 million voters will be asked to respond yes or no to the question: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state, in the form of a Republic?" The Catalan government had not yet made clear how it would respond if the plebiscite results in a "yes" vote, but has insisted the referendum is illegal and must not happen, and that the result would not be recognised.

Source: ANI