Catalonian separatists to reelect Puigdemont as leader

Catalonian separatists to reelect Puigdemont as leader

The two main Catalan separatist parties Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalonia - JpC) and the Republican Left (ERC) have reached an agreement that aims to see former Carles Puigdemont re-elected as leader of the region in northeast Spain. The former Premier fled to Belgium following a referendum, which Spain considered illegal.

The new Catalan parliament will hold its first session on January 17, the first step in reinstating the local government after Madrid fired the old regional administration, led by Puigdemont, for illegally declaring independence.

Pro-independence parties secured a slim majority of seats but failed to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote, meaning there is still no end in sight to the months-long, and increasingly bitter, impasse.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for the Catalan parliament to be formed on January 17.

Junts per Catalunya representative Jordi Xucla told Spanish national radio: "The December 21 result gave us the mandate to reflect the majority".

Mr Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, may either return and risk arrest or be sworn in from overseas.

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.

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He is in Belgium, however, and will be arrested if he comes back to Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Marta Rovira, a deputy leader of the separatist party Esquerra Republicana, met with Puigdemont on Tuesday evening.

Ines Arrimadas added: "It's evident that for governing Catalonia you have to be in Catalonia - you can't do that via WhatsApp or as a hologram".

Forcadell was a key figure among Catalan leaders who attempted to break away from Spain, a process that culminated with the regional parliament declaring unilateral independence on October 27. "You can't be president of Catalonia from Brussels by Skype", she said.

Many of the Catalan political leaders were arrested on charges of sedition and rebellion after the independence declaration.

In order to guarantee a separatist majority in a parliamentary vote this month, Junqueras and the other jailed separatists are expected to ask for special permission from Spain's judiciary to travel to Barcelona for one day to cast their votes. Spain responded by sacking Puigdemont and his government, dissolved the local parliament and called a new election December 21.

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