Cata­lan sep­a­ratists suf­fer court set­back

Those who want to re-elect fugi­tive leader face de­lay.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Joseph Wil­son and Ciaran Giles

Cata­lan BARCELONA, SPAIN — sep­a­ratist law­mak­ers who want to re-elect their fugi­tive ex-pres­i­dent suf­fered a set­back Tues­day when the house speaker post­poned a planned re­gional par­lia­ment meet­ing, say­ing it wouldn’t take place un­til there were guar­an­tees Span­ish au­thor­i­ties “won’t in­ter­fere.”

The de­ci­sion by Roger Tor­rent came after Spain’s top court ruled Satur­day that Car­les Puigde­mont, who fled to Bel­gium three months ago and faces ar­rest if he re­turns, could only be re-elected if phys­i­cally present in the par­lia­ment in Barcelona. The court also or­dered that he must ob­tain per­mis­sion to ap­pear at par­lia­ment from the judge in­ves­ti­gat­ing him over Cat­alo­nia’s in­de­pen­dence bid.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court re­jected an ap­peal by Puigde­mont’s party Tues­day, in ef­fect deny­ing the speaker’s de­mands to al­low Puigde­mont’s re-elec­tion with­out le­gal im­ped­i­ments.

The de­lay in the re-elec­tion leaves the fu­ture gov­ern­ment of the pros­per­ous re­gion in some­thing of a limbo. The par­lia­ment was ini­tially sched­uled to have a first in­vesti­ture vote by Wed­nes­day, but it’s now not known when the speaker may call it.

Puigde­mont’s party, which along with other sep­a­ratist par­ties has a slim ma­jor­ity in the cham­ber, was caught off guard by the sus­pen­sion.

“I am not go­ing to pro­pose a can­di­date other than Puigde­mont,” Tor­rent said. “Pres­i­dent Puigde­mont has all the right to be elected.”

“The Span­ish gov­ern­ment and the Con­sti­tu­tional court aim to vi­o­late the rights of mil­lions of Cata­lans and this we will not ac­cept,” he added.

Spain’s gov­ern­ment wel­comed Tor­rent’s de­ci­sion. An of­fi­cial speak­ing anony­mously in line with gov­ern­ment rules said that pres­sure ap­plied by the gov­ern­ment and the coun­try’s top court “have pre­vented a mockery of our democ­racy.”

Puigde­mont is one of more than a dozen Cata­lan po­lit­i­cal fig­ures fac­ing pos­si­ble re­bel­lion and sedi­tion charges fol­low­ing the pre­vi­ous par­lia­ment’s il­le­gal and un­suc­cess­ful dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence in Oc­to­ber, which brought Spain’s worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in decades to a head.

Spain seized con­trol of the re­gion by fir­ing Puigde­mont and his gov­ern­ment and dis­solv­ing par­lia­ment fol­low­ing the in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion. It says it will keep con­trol un­til a new gov­ern­ment takes of­fice fol­low­ing elec­tions held Dec. 21.


Demon­stra­tors join a protest to sup­port for­mer Cata­lan Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont in front of the Par­lia­ment of Cat­alo­nia on Tues­day in Barcelona, Spain. A court rul­ing has thrown un­cer­tainty in the re­gional par­lia­ment’s plan.

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