Catalan speaker proposes Puigdemont for president

Tuesday January 23 2018

Newly-elected Catalan regional parliament

Newly-elected Catalan regional parliament speaker Roger Torrent holds a press briefing to announce his candidate for the regional presidency at the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona yesterday. PHOTO | AFP 

Barcelona, The speaker of the Catalan parliament on Monday proposed the region’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia, as Spanish prosecutors sought a European warrant for his arrest.

Roger Torrent said Puigdemont’s candidacy to once again head Catalonia’s regional government is “absolutely legitimate”, even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings over his role in Catalonia’s independence drive. In a major blow to the central government in Madrid, separatist parties once again won an absolute majority in the Catalan regional parliament in a snap election in December.

Puigdemont wants to be invested from Belgium, where he fled in late October after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. He now faces arrest if he returns to Catalonia over his role in the independence drive.

The Madrid government has ruled out his being allowed to rule from outside the country and even his separatist allies -- the leftwing ERC party of Puigdemont’s former deputy Oriol Junqueras -- are cool in private to his bid to rule from abroad.

Spanish prosecutors on Monday sought a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont as he arrived in Copenhagen in his first trip outside of Belgium since he fled to the country. (AFP)