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Catalan parliament delays naming leader but backs Puigdemont
01 February 2018, 12:14 | Erma Lawrence
What's next for Catalonia and would-be leader Puigdemont?
However, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, maintained Tuesday that Catalonia's next president was a decision for the region itself, and not the central Spanish government.
Torrent did not give a new date for the vote, saying only that the session would reconvene as soon as Spanish authorities guarantee they "won't interfere" in Puigdemont's re-election.
"The parliamentary speaker would undoubtedly face liabilities for failing to respect a court decision", Rajoy said yesterday morning.
Puigdemont, calling for unity, insisted Tuesday that only he could lead Catalonia.
As hundreds of protesters gathered outside the regional parliament in Barcelona, some of them wearing masks of Puigdemont's face, CUP spokesman Carles Riera called for "a new period of mobilisation and civil disobedience".
The Spanish government was reportedly pleased with the postponement, having opposed Mr Puigdemont's candidacy ever since December's Catalan election, which saw pro-independence parties retain their narrow majority.
Mr Puigdemont has been in exile in Belgium for the last three months and an arrest warrant has been issued against him for alleged sedition and rebellion.
Mr. Torrent said that within 10 days, the Catalan Parliament would appeal the ruling, which he called "a judicial bungle", created to defend the political interests of Mr. Rajoy's government. This comes despite the fact that Mr Puigdemont is living in Belgium.
Meanwhile, demonstrations were held in support of the pro-independence candidate, near the parliament building. Last weekend, Joan Tardà, a leading politician from the Esquerra Republicana party, told the newspaper La Vanguardia that his party backed Mr. Puigdemont, but that his re-election bid might have to be "sacrificed" if it risked endangering the formation of another separatist government.
But Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Puigdemont had no choice but to turn himself in.
Rajoy said he was "satisfied" with Saturday's Constitutional Court ruling and warned that "disobeying" the decision would have consequences.
"It's true that there hasn't been a direct challenge to the constitutional court today, but nor has the real problem been solved, which is that Puigdemont can not be president", said Inés Arrimadas, leader of the party in the region.
A spokeswoman said pressure applied by the government and the country's top court "have prevented a mockery of our democracy", according to AP.
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