Protesters rally against Catalan Independence

"I do not exclude anything", said Rajoy on the question of whether the government of Spain to use article 155 of the Constitution, which allows Madrid to dissolve the regional government and to deprive Catalonia even partial autonomy.

The conservative prime minister added he would not call a snap national election as a result of the political crisis and ruled out using mediation to resolve it.

Rallies were held Saturday in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to demand that Rajoy and Puigdemont negotiate to find a solution to Spain's worst political crisis in almost four decades.

Protestors packed Barcelona's Sant Jaume Square where the Catalan government has its presidential palace, shouting "We want to talk!" and holding signs saying "More Negotiation, Less Testosterone!" and "Talk or Resign!"

In the El Pais interview, Rajoy said the around 4,000 extra police shipped in to the region would stay until the conflict had been resolved.

More than 2.2 million people across Catalonia cast their ballots in last Sunday's referendum, which saw a 90-percent vote in favor of a split from Spain.

Some European officials are also anxious that any softening in Spain's stance towards Catalan independence could fuel secessionist feelings among other groups in Europe such as Belgium's Flemings and Italy's Lombards. He said suspension of Catalonia's autonomy may have to occur. Puigdemont had sought to evaluate the result of the independence vote at a session of the regional parliament on Monday until it was suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

The Spanish government sent thousands of national police into the region to prevent the vote. "It is absolutely inappropriate that they [Catalan authorities] strive for the declaration of independence to come into effect on the next day or that it would be a postponed declaration of independence", the prime minister said.

But what will happen if Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont really does declare independence on Tuesday?

Bartomeu explains. It is now pursing a strategy that says, either Catalonia gives in completely or it unilaterally declares independence.

"Unity of Spain will never be defeated" was one of the most heard shouts in the march, which was attended by people of all ages.

As reported, on October 1, Catalonia held a referendum on independence.

In a separate rally in Madrid's Colon Square, thousands clamored for the unity of Spain and against any attempt by the northeastern region to break away.

There is no doubt the majority of the people do not want independence.

Catalan secessionists are working towards a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain that could be adopted next week in defiance of a court order and increased economic pressure from Madrid.

In the first apology by a Spanish government official over the violence during the referendum, Millo said he could not help but "regret it and apologize on behalf of the officers that intervened".

In peaceful protests called across 50 Spanish cities on Saturday morning, thousands gathered dressed in white and carrying banners calling for peace and dialogue between leaders.

  • Rogelio Becker