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Spain PM visits Catalonia, 1st time since direct rule

  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday arrived in Barcelona for the first time after the central government applied the article 155 of Spanish constitution to sack Catalan government and take control over Catalonia.

  Rajoy's arrival was welcomed by thousands of his supporters. He then made a speech to the public, calling for the Catalan people to support the unity of Spain by encouraging "the silent or silenced majority to convert their voice into a vote".

  Rajoy also expressed his worries about Catalan economy that has suffered due to the chaos caused by the unilateral declaration of independence, as more than 2,000 companies have left the region due to the continuous tensions. Meanwhile, he made a commitment on the recovery of Spanish economy and job creation.

  Talking about the application of Article 155 of Spanish Constitution, Rajoy emphasized that he "has tried every way" before taking this step, saying that every other country that is responsible would do the same.

  He described separatism as "toxic that destroys Catalonia", while expressing his expectation that the new general selection of Catalonia slated for Dec. 21 will be "clean and legal elections that restore democracy."

  Xavier Garcia Albiol, president of the People's Party of Catalonia, thanked Rajoy for applying article 155 of constitution and restoring the normalcy of Catalonia.

  With the approval of Spanish Parliament, Rajoy applied Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend Catalan autonomy and to sack the former regional government hours after the Catalan Parliament made an unilateral declaration of independence on Oct. 27. Several former Catalan separatist leaders have already been sent to prison by court on charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds.