Spain’s Rajoy visits Catalonia after imposing direct rule

Several key Catalan leaders are currently being detained over the move.

Spain‘s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is visiting Catalonia for the first time since the central government imposed direct rule over the region in response to its secession bid. Rajoy travelled to Barcelona to campaign ahead of December’s regional elections and praised efforts to honour Spanish law in what he called “difficult times”.

His visit came the morning after hundreds of thousands of Catalans took to the streets in a show of solidarity for eight former ministers jailed on charges of rebellion and corruption, two imprisoned civil society leaders and a government in exile in Belgium.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from Barcelona.