Despite living in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont is set to be reinstated as Catalonia's president following last month's elections.
Despite living in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont is set to be reinstated as Catalonia's president following last month's elections. Virginia Mayo

Catalonia sticks with 'exiled' leader

CARLES Puigdemont is set be re-installed as Catalonia's president following a deal between the region's two major separatist parties.

Under the agreement between Mr Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party (Together for Catalonia) and the Catalan Republic Left, the fugitive politician would be installed at a meeting of the parliament next week.

The deal comes after pro-independence parties won the narrowest of majorities in seats in the Catalonian parliament at elections on December 21 called by Spain's national government - which had suspended Catalonia's government.

Both parties have confirmed the deal but confusion remains about how the president will read his legally required installation speech to the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday without returning to Catalonia, where he is wanted by Spanish authorities.

The Catalan Parliament's lawyers are set to examine proposals for Mr Puigdemont to read his address via videolink from abroad or have another MP read the speech, according to Spanish media reports.

The possibility of a remote investiture is not covered by the rules of the Catalan parliament, and the deal to reinstall Mr Puigdemont is conditional on a legally sound way of reading the address.

Mr Puigdemont fled to Brussels after Spanish authorities levelled charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds against him for his role in the region's disputed independence referendum.

While Spanish authorities have dropped a bid for a European arrest warrant to deport him, he has previously said he will return to Spain only if it offers certain "guarantees”.

Some of Mr Pugidemont's political allies are in jail on similar charges, having been arrested as he fled.

Mr Puigdemont said on Tuesday at a videoconference that "it is not possible to return to Catalonia” because of the current legal situation.

His lawyers have previously suggested that he might return to Spain following December's elections.

- Jon Stone, The Independent



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