Catalan separatists agree to reelect Puigdemont

Catalan separatists agree to reelect Puigdemont

Catalonia's two main pro-independence parties have agreed to back Carles Puigdemont to be re-elected as president of the region later this month.

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

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels. The move backfired when independence parties across the political spectrum won a narrow majority in the assembly.

Speaking to reporters in Barcelona, staunchly pro- independence Carme Forcadell said she would not stay in the post despite having been offered to do so after regional elections on December 21 that saw separatist parties retain their absolute parliamentary majority.

"The Dec. 21 result gave us the mandate to reflect the majority", Jordi Xucla, a representative for Puigdemont's Together for Catalonia party, told Spanish national radio Wednesday, according to Reuters.

He is likely to be detained if he returns to Spain, pending an investigation on charges of sedition, rebellion, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust.

Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos (Citizens), which favours unity with Spain, said a fugitive from justice could not be a leader in Catalonia.

Mr Puigdemont said on Tuesday at a videoconference that "it is not possible to return to Catalonia" because of the current legal situation.

Differences between the two have grown since Puigdemont led separatist lawmakers in unilaterally declaring Catalan independence from Spain on October 27.

He said he had taken the decision to make way for new people and to face the judicial cases against him.

The parties' announcement Wednesday raises the specter of a renewed push for independence - and also raises hard questions about how, exactly, Puigdemont might go about governing. 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.

That same day, Artur Mas, who as Catalan president from 2010 to 2016 was the instigator of the independence drive, announced he was stepping down as president of his PDeCAT party.

Junqueras has asked for release from jail to attend the first meeting of the new Catalan parliament. Spain responded by sacking Puigdemont and his government, dissolved the local parliament and called a new election December 21.

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