News ID: 209431
Published: 0310 GMT February 04, 2018

Spain’s Rajoy urges Catalan to replace Puigdemont

Spain’s Rajoy urges Catalan to replace Puigdemont

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on lawmakers in the northeastern Catalonia region to replace former secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont with someone who respects Madrid’s authority and the rule of law.

Rajoy said Sunday while addressing members of his own party in southern Spain that Catalonia was in need of someone as president that “sees things another way”.

He said lawmakers in Catalonia’s newly-elected parliament should pick someone that says, “I am a political leader and that's why I am going to respect the law, because it's my obligation and that's what happens in democratic countries.”

Puigdemont, who is in exile in Belgium since his declaration of independence for Catalonia last October, had been due to be reappointed as the president in a leadership vote in the regional parliament on Tuesday. However, the vote was postponed as separatist had yet to find a mechanism for Puigdemont’s continued presidency in Catalonia.

The former leader is wanted on charges of rebellion and sedition and can be arrested as soon as he returns to Spain. He led a controversial independence drive in Catalonia that finally prompted Madrid to interfere and dissolve his cabinet and the regional parliament. Senior figures of the independence movement were jailed while arrest warrants were issued for Puigdemont and four of his cabinet ministers who are now with him in Belgium.

The new Catalan parliament was formed after snap elections in December in which pro-independence parties, like that of Puigdemont’s, retained their majority.

Some lawmakers have suggested Puigdemont could rule Catalonia from outside the country, something that Madrid has fiercely opposed. Oriol Junqueras, a vice-president in the former Catalonia administration, dispatched a delegation of his own pro-independence ERC party to Brussels to study Puigdemont’s case.

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