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Puigdemont suffers setback in return to Catalan parliament after court ruling

The exiled former leader of Catalonia faces further delays to his bid to retake his position in Barcelona after he failed to get permission to return to Spain.

Carles Puigdemont was expecting to be voted back as leader of the Catalan parliament on Tuesday evening, after separatist groups clinched victory in the December election called after the Spanish government dissolved the regional assembly.

However, a vote to re-elect the former president, who faces charges of rebellion and sedition, was postponed after a top court refused to grant permission for Mr Puigdemont to be present without legal impediment.

Mr Puigdemont’s party was caught off-guard by the suspension and it leaves the future of the parliament hanging in the balance.

Puigdemont speech Jan 30
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Mr Puigdemont asked for the support of ‘all democrats in Europe’

Parliament speaker Roger Torrent said: “I am not going to propose a candidate other than Puigdemont. 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.”

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Puigdemont accused Madrid of “twisting the law and the will of the citizens who voted”.

“I would have liked to be talking to you now after the inauguration would have taken place, and therefore as the president of Catalonia,” he said.

“This way the will of the majority of MPs in the Parliament would have been materialised. And this will responds to the will of citizens, expressed on the 21 December election.

“There is no other possible candidate and no other arithmetic possibility after the election. Unfortunately the session didn’t take place.The president of the parliament has chosen a different way and we need to respect his decision.

Cataln speaker and puigdemont
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Parliament speaker Roger Torrent and Mr Puigdemont met earlier in January

“Democracy means accepting the result of an election and the Spanish state not only has not accepted that but they are also trying to win an office they didn’t win in the election.”

The former Catalan president also claimed the Spanish government was attempting to choose a regional leader and parliament which it approves of.

In an appeal to “all democrats in Europe”, he added: “Do not let us down – letting us down is letting down the cause of democracy.”

Mr Puigdemont had been told he had to appear in person in order to be re-elected as leader.

Extra police were deployed outside the parliament on Tuesday in case Mr Puigdemont turned up surreptitiously, and there was also a helicopter overhead.

More from Carles Puigdemont

Hundreds of supporters, some wearing masks of Mr Puigdemont’s face, rallied outside the building in Barcelona.

Madrid will maintain control of the regional government until new leaders are installed, but has urged Catalan MPs to select a “clean candidate”.

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