Way clear for new Catalan president to be elected Monday


Quim Torra REUTERS

Separatist allies announced Saturday they would try to have Puigdemont, now in Germany after being detained there in March on a European arrest warrant, re-appointed as president by next week after the regional parliament voted through reforms allowing him to take the role without being present.

Torra's election and the formation of a new government would close the latest chapter in the Catalan crisis, which reached its height a year ago when regional leaders held a disputed referendum on breaking away from Spain and then declared independence.

This will be the first major step forward in forming a regional government after months of political limbo following a failed independence bid by Catalonia's separatist leaders last October.

Mr Torra, who is expected to be inaugurated on Monday, vowed to restore self-governance to Catalonia and followed "the mandate" delivered in the banned October 1 independence referendum.

The former Catalan president has called on the regional parliament to elect his party's deputy to lead the legislature.

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday rejected being re-appointed as leader of the region, following pressure from Spain's government.

Separatist events maintained a slim majority in regional elections in December, however Spanish courts have blocked efforts to elect two separatists in jail awaiting trial and fugitive ex-chief Carles Puigdemont.

If a president is not sworn in by May 22 a new election will be triggered.

Torra is a newcomer to politics.

Both the Spanish government and the courts have declared the secession illegal and vowed to block it.

The Spanish government said Mr Torra's speech was "confrontational".

But he has been a major cultural figure over the last decade pushing for the region to fully break from Spain.

Puigdemont is now in Germany after being detained there in March on a European arrest warrant against him issued by Spain.

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