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Catalan Parliament Delays Vote To Re-elect Puigdemont As Leader



Catalan parliament has postponed a vote to re-elect the fugitive separatist Carles Puigdemont as leader of the region but vowed to continue to push for him to be appointed at a later date. Roger Torrent, the pro-independence speaker of the house, said at a press conference on Tuesday that there would not be a vote until he has “guarantees” that the Spanish government “will not interfere” in his investiture. But Mr Torrent also struck a defiant note, saying that the only possible candidate for the time being is Mr

Puigdemont, who this month won support of the pro-independence forces in the region to try and form a government. This comes despite the fact that Mr Puigdemont is living in Belgium. The former leader fled abroad last October after spearheading an illegal and ultimately unsuccessful push for Catalan independence. If he returns to Spain he faces charges of sedition and rebellion. “Today’s session has been postponed, but under no circumstance cancelled . . . another candidate will not be presented,” he said. “I will fight to the last to defend the rights of Puigdemont.”

The decision leaves Catalonia in a political limbo. Over the weekend Spain’s highest courts have ruled that Mr Puigdemont cannot be named leader of the region because he is a fugitive from Spanish justice living abroad. The Spanish courts said that Mr Puigdemont had to be physically present at his investiture in the Catalan parliament. They also said he would have to return from Belgium and ask a judge permission to attend the session.

As long as there is no government in Catalonia, the Spanish national government is set to maintain the direct control of the region that it took last year in response to the region’s deceleration of independence in October.

Privately, many in the Catalan independence movement are considering other candidates who might be able to replace Mr Puigdemont as leader given it looks less and less likely that he will be able to legally take up the role. If the Catalan separatists cannot pick a leader and form a government in the coming months there will have to be new elections in the region. In the last regional election in December, the pro-independence parties won only a slim majority.