Catalonia postpones vote for new regional president and sticks with Carles Puigdemont

'Another candidate will not be presented', says Roger Torrent

Self-exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont
Self-exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

The Catalan parliament speaker has said a vote for a new regional head, planned for Tuesday, had been postponed but insisted that self-exiled, former leader Carles Puigdemont was the only viable candidate to lead Catalonia.

“Today’s session has been postponed, but under no circumstance cancelled ... another candidate will not be presented”, Roger Torrent said on Tuesday in a press conference.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated on Tuesday that Mr Puigdemont could not be a candidate because he was in exile in Brussels, after a warrant for his arrest was ordered following his illegal declaration of independence at the end of October.

Mr Rajoy said the “most sensible” thing for the parliament speaker would be to propose a “clean candidate” who was willing to obey the law and work for the return of normality in Catalonia.

Mr Torrent said he would reconvene the session once Spanish authorities guaranteed they “won’t interfere” in the election of Mr Puigdemont.

Last week Mr Puigdemont travelled to Denmark on his first trip outside Belgium since beginning his self-imposed exile – risking arrest.

The Spanish supreme court said it would not reactivate a European Arrest Warrant for the leader, however, having withdrawn it in December to prevent the Belgian government granting Mr Puigdemont asylum.

The Spanish government late last year dissolved the Catalan home rule administration and imposed direct rule from Madrid on the province after moves towards independence by its separatist government.

Following new elections in December, an alliance of pro-independence parties won a majority again – albeit a narrower one than before.

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