Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

Catalan parties propose self-exiled former leader as president

Catalan parties propose self-exiled former leader as president

A spokesman for JpC confirmed that the two parties aim to "move forward with this new parliamentary term with Puigdemont as the president".

Former Catalan President Artur Mas said on Tuesday he would step down as head of his separatist political party to pave the way for new leaders of Catalonia's independence movement after reports of internal divisions.

Consequently Puigdemont faces arrest and nearly certain imprisonment if he returns to Spain and as in the case of his former deputy leader, Oriol Junqueras (who has spent over two months in prison), it would be unlikely the Spanish Supreme Court would grant him bail.

Under the agreement between Mr Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party (Together for Catalonia) and the Catalan Republic Left, the fugitive politician would be installed at a meeting of the parliament next week.

Pro-independence parties secured a slim majority of seats but failed to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote, meaning there is still no end in sight to the months-long, and increasingly bitter, impasse.

Catalan independence parties have reached a deal to return Carles Puigdemont to the presidency with a long-distance inauguration from his self-imposed exile in Brussels, either by Skype or through a delegate.

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels.

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The Catalan assembly's regulations are ambiguous about that possibility, but the anti-independence opposition has said a president can not govern from afar.

Mariano Rajoy, Spain's prime minister, called the election hoping that voters in the prosperous region would halt the drive for independence.

Catalonian separatists have made a decision to reelect Carles Puigdemont as their regional leader when the new regional parliament meets for the first time on January 17.

Her party won the most votes in December but not enough to form a government. On Friday, judges from the Spanish Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Esquerra leader, Oriol Junqueras, who has been in jail in Madrid since early November, pending his trial on corruption and sedition charges.

Puigdemont fled to Brussels to avoid a judicial investigation into suspicions of rebellion by him and his Catalan government for pressing ahead with the independence bid.

Developments surrounding Catalonia have gripped Spain for months and the tumult is showing no sign of letting up before the newly-elected Catalan parliament's first session next Wednesday.

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