Catalonia sticks with 'exiled' leader

13 January, 2018, 16:39 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Catalonia's separatist parties will support Carles Puigdemont's re-election as regional head. Virginia Mayo AP

Mr Forn was one of several regional ministers jailed on provisional charges of rebellion after the Catalan parliament unilaterally - and unsuccessfully - declared the region's independence on October 27.

MADRID-Catalonia's two main separatist parties have agreed to support the re-election of ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president, in a sign that pro-independence groups are eager to ratchet up the tension with Spain's central government.

Following an illegal referendum last October and the imposition of direct rule on the region by Madrid, the pro-independence movement has become fractured over whether to continue with its push for an independent state or to engage in talks with the Spanish government to gain more regional autonomy in the short term.

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.

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. The move backfired when independence parties across the political spectrum won a narrow majority in the assembly.

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However, it remains to be seen just how Puigdemont could be re-invested as Catalan leader less than three months after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy temporarily suspended Catalan autonomy and Puigdemont sought exile in Belgium.

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels. "You can't be president of Catalonia from Brussels by Skype", she said. 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's party unexpectedly won the most seats among the main separatist parties in December, even though Puigdemont has not made clear whether he plans to return from Belgium.

Mr Puigdemont's supporters are assessing the legality of him taking...

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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