MADRID — The Latest on the political crisis in Catalonia (all times local):
The former president of Spain’s Catalonia region is calling on supporters of Catalan independence to remain united in re-electing him even though he is in Belgium as a fugitive.
Carles Puigdemont produced an online video reacting to decision by the Catalan parliament’s speaker to postpone indefinitely the assembly’s vote on choosing a new regional leader.
Puigdemont said his intentions for Catalonia are the same now as they were when Spain removed him from office in October for promoting the region’s independence.
The suspension of the parliamentary vote leaves the region’s next government in limbo and has exposed divisions among secession supporters.
Puigdemont is the only candidate for the top position, but faces jail if he returns to Spain.
Despite the chaotic situation, the 54 year-old politician said “there is no other possible candidate or other possible arithmetic combination” in the regional parliament.
Central authorities in Spain are welcoming the decision to postpone a Catalan parliamentary session intended to re-elect the Spanish region’s fugitive former president.
A spokeswoman said pressure applied by the government and the country’s top court “have prevented a mockery of our democracy.”
The spokeswoman, who declined to be named in news reports citing internal government rules, said “the separatists know that they are obliged to comply with the law like other citizens.”
Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled ex-president Carles Puigdemont would have to return from Belgium, where he fled to dodge a Spanish court probe over an illegal independence declaration, in order to be re-elected as leader. Puigdemont would also need permission from a judge to attend an investiture session, the top court said.
The speaker of Catalonia’s parliament has postponed a session intended to re-elect the Spanish region’s fugitive ex-president.
Roger Torrent announced the decision Tuesday, hours before the session he had called to hold a vote authorizing separatist leader Carles Puigdemont to form a government.
The decision comes after Spain’s top court had ruled Puigdemont, who faces arrest in Spain, would have to return from Belgium and ask a judge permission to attend the session.
Torrent says he will reconvene the session once Spanish authorities guarantee they “won’t interfere” in the election of Puigdemont.
Puigdemont is the focus of an investigation into October’s illegal— and unsuccessful— declaration of independence.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is urging the Catalan parliament not to press ahead with the candidacy of fugitive leader Carles Puigdemont for regional president and instead to opt for a lawmaker free of legal proceedings.
Speaking Tuesday on Spanish National Television hours before the parliament is scheduled to hold an investiture vote for Puigdemont, Rajoy said the parliament speaker will face legal consequences if he disobeys a Constitutional Court order saying Puigdemont can only be voted on if he is physically present and has previously obtained court permission.
Puigdemont faces arrest if he returns to Spain.
Rajoy said the “most sensible” thing for the parliament speaker would be to propose a “clean candidate” who is willing to obey the law and work for the return of normality in Catalonia.