Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont announced on Thursday in a speech that he will renounce his bid to for the presidency of the Spanish region of Catalonia, after being nominated for the position following regional elections of December 21st.
“I informed the president of the Catalan parliament that, temporarily, he should not present my candidacy for the nomination as president,” said the former leader of the region.
Carles Puigdemont, currently seeking political refuge in Brussels, has decided to appoint as his successor Jordi Sanchez, a supporter of Catalan independence currently in prison for sedition.
“Jordi represents the values of Junts per Catalunya as a person, and he is a man of peace,” said Puigdemont in his speech, referring to the party “Together for Catalonia”, an umbrella group of pro independence parties. “He is a man unjustly imprisoned,” he added.
Mr Puigdemont, who had conducted the Catalonia’s disputed independence, has been living in Brussels since he fled Catalonia to avoid arrest by the Madrid who had declared the vote illegal and imposed direct rule on the north eastern region.
If he returns to Barcelona, he is still at risk of being arrested and remanded for “rebellion”, “sedition” and “embezzlement”.
Puigdemont and his supporters had proposed that he could perform his duties as president in absentia, via teleconference but this was rejected as “absurd” by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Jordi Sanchez will prove just as controversial a choice to replace Puigdemont given that he is in prison in Madrid for his role in the organising the banned referendum. On Thursday, Mariano Rajoy said that a Catalan leader “must be chosen now who is in Spain, who is not in jail and who has no problems with the law”