Pro-independence protesters break police cordon on way to Catalan parliament

by Wade Massey February 1, 2018, 0:13
Pro-independence protesters break police cordon on way to Catalan parliament

The court also said that Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium shortly after the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27, must turn himself in ask for a judge's permission to attend the parliamentary session.

The Catalan parliament announced the postponement after Spain's Constitutional Court issued an order to suspend the vote.

"The Spanish government and the Constitutional Court are trying to violate the rights of thousands of Catalans who went to the polls on Dec 21 and we won't allow that", he said.

Privately, many in the Catalan independence movement are considering other candidates who might be able to replace Mr Puigdemont as leader given it looks less and less likely that he will be able to legally take up the role. Early on Tuesday, local media reported that police surveillance had been reinforced around the assembly in Barcelona to prevent Mr. Puigdemont from making a surreptitious, last-minute return.

The decision comes amidst the confusion over how the only candidate, Carles Puigdemont, could be sworn in.

Referring to Puigdemont, who faces arrest on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds the moment he sets foot in Spain, Rajoy continued: "You can't be a fugitive from justice, live in Brussels and try to get yourself elected president of a democratic institution ..."

Meanwhile, demonstrations were held in support of the pro-independence candidate, near the parliament building.

Over the weekend Spain's highest courts have ruled that Mr Puigdemont can not be named leader of the region because he is a fugitive from Spanish justice living overseas. 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 in a major setback for the central government, separatist parties once again won a majority of 70 seats in the 135-seat parliament in the December polls.

Speaking on Spanish National Television, the Spanish prime minister warned Torrent of legal consequences if he elected Puigdemont in abstentia. But Madrid remains fiercely opposed to his return to power.

"The parliamentary speaker would undoubtedly face liabilities for failing to respect a court decision", Rajoy said yesterday morning. But Torrent's defense of the former Catalan leader makes this unlikely. A stalemate could eventually lead to new elections.

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