Catalan separatists seek to reelect their leader

Catalan separatists seek to reelect their leader

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

The two main pro-independence parties in Catalonia have agreed to back former leader Carles Puigdemont as their candidate to head the region, raising the likelihood of a renewed push this year for a split from Spain.

The deal - reached over dinner in Brussels on Tuesday - would allow Puigdemont to deliver his acceptance speech this month either by videoconference from Belgium or by having another lawmaker read it in the Catalan Parliament on his behalf, according to the Catalan radio station Rac1 and other outlets.

Forcadell was a key figure among Catalan leaders who attempted to break away from Spain, a process that culminated with the regional parliament declaring unilateral independence on October 27.

That vote was called after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the region in October in an attempt to quell.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ordered the December 21 regional election under constitutional powers he invoked in October to dissolve the previous parliament after separatist lawmakers voted to declare Catalonia an independent republic.

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However, it is unclear how Mr Puigdemont would lead the regional government from Brussels as he could be arrested if he returns to Spain.

"It's evident that for governing Catalonia you have to be in Catalonia, you can't do that via WhatsApp or as a hologram", said Ines Arrimadas, the leader of the anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) party.

A spokesman from his Together for Catalonia political platform said that Puigdemont has gained the support of ERC separatists as well. He also removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet.

Her party won the most votes in December but not enough to form a government.

Puigdemont boasted again on Wednesday that the three Catalan pro-independence parties had secured a majority despite some of their candidates campaigning from self-imposed exile or in jail while facing possible charges of rebellion. 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.

"Madrid must be made to understand that what is needed is dialogue, negotiation and agreement on the future relationship we Catalans want to have with Spain - one based on respect, recognition, cooperation and equality", Puigdemont wrote.

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