Puigdemont rejects being chosen as next Catalan leader

Puigdemont rejects being chosen as next Catalan leader

Madrid successfully requested the Constitutional Court to cancel a reform voted for last week by Catalonia's majority separatist parliament that would allow Puigdemont - now in self-exile overseas - to be appointed president without having to be present.

The debate is scheduled for midday on Saturday, although it is likely a second vote will be needed 48 days later as the pro-independence party CUP will abstain in the first vote, leaving Torra short of the absolute majority he requires in the 135-seat chamber.

Exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont renounced his candidacy for the regional presidency on Thursday, suggesting in his stead a politician who is acceptable to Madrid.

Mr Torra, vice-president of the activist group Omnium Cultural - whose leader, Jordi Cuixart, has been in preventative prison since October - is the so-called "Plan D" candidate after three previous inauguration attempts were blocked by the Spanish courts.

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The formation of a new regional government is required for Spain to lift the state of direct rule.

In a video statement from Germany, he proposed political newcomer Quim Torra as his successor.

They also say the rebellion charge against him and others is disproportionate, and describe those already in jail in Spain - like former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras - as "political prisoners".

On Oct 27, Madrid sacked Puigdemont and his entire cabinet, and called regional elections in December which separatist parties won again.

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Puigdemont is overseas in self-exile and faces jail if he returns, while other candidates such as civic leader Jordi Sanchez are in prison, charged with rebellion for their role in the independence drive.

"He is the most radical that Puigdemont could find and the only one who voluntarily accepted to be the puppet of Mr. Puigdemont", she told reporters.

Puigdemont is free to move around Germany after being released from detention pending a German court decision on a Spanish extradition request, but he may not leave the country.

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