News ID: 208575
Published: 1148 GMT January 22, 2018

Catalan crisis rekindled as parliament proposes Puigdemont as leader

Catalan crisis rekindled as parliament proposes Puigdemont as leader

The Catalan parliament on Monday proposed Carles Puigdemont as candidate for president, dealing a blow to central government efforts to derail an independence movement that has plunged Spain into political crisis.

As the legislature’s speaker named Puigdemont as the sole candidate for a position he was fired from in October, Spain’s legal system sought to tighten its net around him, Reuters wrote.

The state prosecutor in Madrid requested the reactivation of a European arrest warrant to detain him on charges of sedition and rebellion in Copenhagen, where Puigdemont touched down earlier on Monday on his first trip away from Belgium in three months of self-imposed exile.

He fled to Brussels in October after Spain’s central government sacked him for spearheading an independence drive that culminated in an illegal referendum and a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament.

He became the top candidate to lead the region again after regional elections last month, called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, that gave secessionists a majority.

“I confirm that the only candidate that has been proposed is Mr. Carles Puigdemont,” said Roger Torrent, the newly-elected separatist speaker at the Catalan parliament.

“I am conscious of the warnings that weigh upon him, but I am also conscious of his absolute legitimacy to be candidate,” said Torrent, calling for dialogue with Madrid to resolve the situation.

Puigdemont argues he could govern the region from exile abroad, an option that Rajoy has ruled out.

Shortly after Puigdemont’s arrival in Copenhagen, Spain’s state prosecution service said it had asked the Supreme Court to reactivate the warrant, on charges of sedition and rebellion, originally issued against him — and later lifted — after he fled to Belgium.

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