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Madrid and Barcelona clash over control of the Catalonia police force

Madrid and Barcelona clash over control of the Catalonia police force”

Spanish authorities want the names of officials running polling stations at schools and civic buildings, with a view to prosecuting them.

The visit comes as Catalonia's regional government attempts to hold a vote on independence from Spain, which could prove challenging for USA companies who are invested in Spain and have operations in Catalonia.

Spanish authorities say Sunday's ballot on whether the Catalan region should secede from Spain is illegal.

"They need to stop lying, come back to reason and accept that we will all find a place for Catalonia within Spain", he added before heading to Washington.

Students place leaflets on a wall during a protest march held to support the independence referendum in Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, 24 September 2017.

For its part the Catalan regional government said the vote will go ahead and it sent out notifications to Catalans to man polling booths.

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The Spanish Interior Ministry in Madrid said on Tuesday the order to note down the personal details of officials was given to police by the top state prosecutor in Catalonia.

Police have seized almost 10 million ballots for the vote and have closed down 59 websites that provide information about the referendum.

Spanish Attorney General Jose Manual Maza warned today that the government retains the option of arresting Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont for "disobedience" and misuse of public funds if the Catalan referendum takes place.

Madrid has also threatened fines against bureaucrats working on the ballot, including the region's election commission, which was dissolved last week.

Catalonia's separatists have pledged to hold the vote regardless.

These actions have provoked mass demonstrations and drawn accusations from Catalan leaders that the Madrid government was resorting to the repression of the Franco dictatorship.

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The Catalan government has already vowed to push ahead with the referendum on October 1, which the Spanish government considers illegal.

A "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.

They will be released pending further questioning by a judge, he said.

He said: "I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain".

Although Catalonia enjoys a certain measure of autonomy, separtists have long campaigned for independence for a wealthy region with its own language and cultural traditions.

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