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Madrid was taking action because Catalonia's regional government has refused to comply with a request made back in July that it provide weekly instead of monthly accounts of its spending to ensure it was not using money to stage the contested referendum, Montoro said.

The letter says a copy is being sent to King Felipe VI.

The Catalan regional government, led by Carles Puigdemont, is organising the referendum and plans to declare independence within 48 hours if the result is Yes to secession.

Catalan Governor Carles Puigdemont on Thursday opened the "yes" campaign for the October 1 referendum, despite Spain's Constitutional Court ordering the suspension of the vote pending a formal decision by judges. If Catalonia forms a new state it would remain outside the European Union trading bloc and be forced to apply for membership, a process that could take years.

"What we are doing is exercising the right to vote. that forms part of a basic democratic exercise", Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras told Spanish radio today. She also warned that facilitating the vote could be considered illegal.

Both the Catalans and the Kurds considers themselves a separate nation.

The wealthy northeastern region launched its official campaign for an independence referendum on Thursday in defiance of Madrid, which has declared the process illegal, and the Constitutional Court, which has suspended the vote. According to a June survey by the Catalan government's own polling agency, 41 percent supported independence while 49 percent were for staying in Spain. In addition, the head of the regional police, Josep LluĂ­s Trapero, has been ordered to seize ballot boxes due to be used for the referendum.

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Despite the fact that she's routinely ranked in the mid-to-high 20s overall, Patrick still thinks she can do better. I can tell you that, it's not me", Kenseth said Wednesday during the playoff media day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

A concern for those holding the referendum is the possibility of a low turnout by No voters who are deterred by the referendum's illegal status.

A man carries a sign that reads "Spain for sale" next to a huge banner reading "Independence Now" during a rally on Catalonia's national day "La Diada" in Barcelona, Spain, September 11, 2017.

Scotland's nationalists hope the country's pro-EU stance will translate into votes for independence.

"The attitude of the state is so aggressive that no democrat can remain indifferent", Ramon Pique, the coordinator of the campaign of the Catalan National Assembly, an influential pro-independence citizens group, told AFP.

Catalan regional authorities are determined to press ahead.

Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who will travel to Barcelona on Friday, has also urged Catalans to stay away from the poll. That party has walked a fine line between the staunch unionism of Rajoy's PP and the Socialists on one hand and separatism on the other.


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