Catalonia Separatists Support Re-Election of Exiled Leader Puigdemont

Catalonia Separatists Support Re-Election of Exiled Leader Puigdemont

Catalonia's main separatist parties said Wednesday they have agreed to re-elect fugitive Carles Puigdemont as president of the region later this month, although how to make that legally possible is still up in the air.

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.

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

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election in Catalonia last month to try to resolve Spain's worst political crisis in decades after Catalan leaders declared independence in October following a banned referendum on secession.

JpC won 34 seats in the December 21 regional elections, while ERC won 32 with the radical separatists CUP claiming 4 seats to give pro-Catalan independence forces a majority in the 150 seats Catalan Assembly.

However, it is unclear how Mr Puigdemont would lead the regional government from Brussels as he could be arrested if he returns to Spain. The move backfired when independence parties across the political spectrum won a narrow majority in the assembly. "The presidential candidate will evidently be Puigdemont", Junts pel Catalunya representative Jordi Xucla told Spanish national radio.

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.

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. "You can't be president of Catalonia from Brussels by Skype", said Arrimadas, whose party won most votes in December but not enough to form a government.

He wants the separatist majority in the new regional parliament to appoint him despite his absence. 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.

Junqueras has asked for release from jail to attend the first meeting of the new Catalan parliament.

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