Spain

Catalan parliament speaker proposes ‘exiled’ Puigdemont as region’s president

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Newly elected Catalan regional parliament speaker Roger Torrent arrives for a press briefing to announce his candidate for the regional presidency. Photo: AFP

The speaker of the Catalan parliament on Monday proposed the region's ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia following an election in December in which separatist parties once again won an absolute majority.

Roger Torrent said Puigdemont's candidacy to once again head Catalonia's regional government is "absolutely legitimate", even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings over his role in Catalonia's independence drive.

The announcement came as Puigdemont arrived in Copenhagen to take part in a university debate about the Catalan crisis.

It was his first trip outside Belgium since he took refuge there with four of his deputies after being removed from his post by the Madrid government after the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27th.

Puigdemont arrived in Copenhagen on Monday morning. Photo: Tariq Mikkel Khan/Scanpix Denmark

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His travel plans led to Spain's prosecuter's office seeking an urgent request to reinstate a European arrest warrant for the separatist leader.

Spain originally issued a European arrest warrant to bring Puigdemont back to Spain to face charges of rebellion and sedition for his role in organizing an illegal referendum but it was dropped by the Supreme Court over fears that it could complicate the overall probe into the matter.

Puigdemont has insisted that he can govern from exile, although Madrid has threatened to take the matter to court and keep direct control over Catalonia if Puigdemont tries to govern from Belgium.

More to follow…

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