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The Latest: Thousands rally in Spain to avoid Catalan split

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- The Latest on Spain's political crisis amid Catalonia's push for independence (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

Thousands are gathering at simultaneous rallies in Madrid and Barcelona in a call for dialogue amid a political crisis caused by Catalonia's secession push.

People dressed in white gathered in both the Spanish capital of Madrid and in the Catalan city of Barcelona under the slogan "Shall We Talk?" in a message to Spain's politicians.

Organizers of the rallies had asked people to not bring any flags, neither Spanish nor Catalan, and to wear white clothes.

At the same time in Madrid there was another rally in support of Spanish unity and against Catalan independence.

The rallies comes six days after Catalonia held a referendum on secession that Spain's government calls illegal and the country's top court has suspended. Catalan authorities say the "Yes" vote for secession won by a landslide, although less than half of the electorate voted.


12:20 p.m.

Thousands of Spaniards are rallying in Madrid to show their support for a united Spain and protest against a push for independence by the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The crowds have turned Plaza de Colon in a sea of Spanish flags, with some jumping into a fountain and dancing.

The rally comes six days after Catalonia held a referendum on secession that Spain's government warned was illegal and the country's top court had suspended.

Separatists lawmakers in Catalonia are now mulling over whether to unilaterally declare independence, a move that would thrust Spain into a national emergency.


10:50 a.m.

A member of Catalonia's separatist-led government has called for a "cease-fire" with Spain to decrease tensions after a disputed referendum on independence by the prosperous region.

Santi Vila, Catalonia's regional chief for business, told Cadena SER Radio late Friday that he's pushing for "a new opportunity for dialogue" under "a cease-fire" with Spanish authorities.

Vila says he is against Catalonia unilaterally declaring independence at this moment and wants to see a committee of experts from both sides be created to work toward a solution to the political crisis.

Separatists say they won the Oct. 1 referendum, but Spain says the vote was illegal, invalid and unconstitutional. Less than half of the electorate cast ballots in the referendum which has marred by a brutal police crackdown.