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Scottish capital hosts mass independence rally

A file photo shows people attending an independence rally in Scotland.

Tens of thousands of people attend a mass rally in Scotland to demand the region’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Local media said Saturday that at least 30,000 people attended the rally in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.

The march came amid increasing calls on the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership to decide on another independence referendum that could finally separate the wealthy region from the rest of Britain.

It marked the culmination of a series of protests and demonstrations across Scotland in the summer which saw tens of thousands calling for freedom from the British rule. Grassroots group All Under One Banner (AUOB), which have been organizing the events, managed to attract some 40,000 people to its first march in Glasgow in May. The rally was the biggest popular action in the city since the rally against the Iraq war in 2003.

AUOB and other pro-independence movements across Scotland have been calling on the SNP and the Scottish government to prepare the ground for another independence referendum to be held before 2021 when Britain finally leaves the European Union after a planned transitions period and when the Scottish parliament holds its fresh elections. More than two million people voted against Scottish independence from the UK in the previous vote in September 2014. More than 1.6 million voted in favor of separation.

However, many say Britain’s referendum on Brexit in June 2016 in which voters decided for their country to leave the EU has changed the political situation in Scotland while they insist that most of Scots still prefer staying in the EU as they showed in the Brexit referendum.

The SNP is to convene its annual conference in Glasgow on Sunday. Its leader and first Scottish minister Nicola Sturgeon has yet to accept calls for another independence referendum. Sturgeon says she would decide on the issue once Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels are finalized before the official Brexit date in late March.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon

The SNP’s leader in the British parliament said Saturday that the party would support the idea of a second referendum on Brexit, as demanded by a considerable portion of voters across Britain, if there would be guarantee that Scotland could hold another vote on independence.

Ian Blackford said his party would support a second referendum on leaving the EU if London gave clear assurances that it would not force the Scots to accept the results of another yes vote to Brexit of they voted to remain in the EU.

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