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Spain suspends Catalan parliament session in attempt to block independence

A woman carries an independence Catalan flag as demonstrators march downtown Barcelona on Tuesday. Regional officials are expected to vote on breaking away from Spain
Aritz Parra and

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SPAIN'S constitutional court has ordered a temporary halt to a special session of Catalonia's parliament next week where regional officials are expected to vote on breaking away from Spain.

The opposition Socialist bloc in the regional parliament, where separatist parties have a narrow majority of seats, had called for Monday's session to be blocked.

Lawyers for the regional parliament had also warned that the session would be illegal because it discusses results of a referendum over the weekend that had been previously suspended by the constitutional court.

Sunday's independence referendum has sparked a major political crisis in Spain.

Spain's prime minister, meanwhile, urged the separatist leader of the regional Catalan government to cancel plans for declaring independence to avoid "greater evils".

In an interview with Spain's EFE news agency, Mariano Rajoy said the solution in Catalonia "is the prompt return to legality and the affirmation, as early as possible, that there will be no unilateral declaration of independence, because that way greater evils will be avoided".

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has indicated the region will formally declare independence.

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