Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont poised to be sworn in from Belgian haven

Joanna Estrada
January 14, 2018

Former Catalan President Artur Mas said on Tuesday he would step down as head of his separatist political party to pave the way for new leaders of Catalonia's independence movement after reports of internal divisions.

Consequently Puigdemont faces arrest and nearly certain imprisonment if he returns to Spain and as in the case of his former deputy leader, Oriol Junqueras (who has spent over two months in prison), it would be unlikely the Spanish Supreme Court would grant him bail.

Puigdemont's party, "together for Catalonia" reached an agreement with its former coalition partner, the "Catalan Republican Left" to give pro-independence parties a majority on the parliamentary board, when the regional assembly sits next week, for the first time, since the bloc retained its majority in last December's elections.

Opposition parties - not to mention the Spanish courts - are likely to contest the legality of the deal, which would become official next week when the new regional parliament convenes.

However, it remains to be seen just how Puigdemont could be re-invested as Catalan leader less than three months after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy temporarily suspended Catalan autonomy and Puigdemont sought exile in Belgium.

However, the anti-independence party that won most votes in a December 21 regional election poured scorn on the plan as Puigdemont remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels and it said he would be a "hologram president".

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels.

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

Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos (Citizens), which favours unity with Spain, said a fugitive from justice could not be a leader in Catalonia.

Some of Mr Pugidemont's political allies are in jail on similar charges, having been arrested as he fled.

Carles Puigdemont aims to return to office as president of Catalonia - despite the fact it's unlikely he'll actually return there in person.

"The presidential candidate will evidently be Puigdemont". He also removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet.

The other main potential candidate to represent the pro-independence parties would be ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, who is serving a custodial sentence in a Madrid jail.

Madrid dismissed the regional parliament and called a new election after an illegal referendum in October.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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