Saturday 18 November 2017

Ousted Catalan leader rows back from separatist stance

Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont. Photo: AP
Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont. Photo: AP

James Badcock Madrid

The deposed Catalonian president has said that "a solution other than independence is possible", in an apparent climbdown from his hard line on separatism for the region.

Carles Puigdemont, who was ousted after leading an illegal independence referendum last month, told Belgian newspaper 'Le Soir' he is "prepared to accept the reality of another kind of relationship with Spain", hinting at a possible federal state structure.

Mr Puigdemont fled to Brussels to avoid the possibility of being jailed, after all members of the regional administration were accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, crimes which could lead to sentences of up to 30 years.

Eight of his former regional government colleagues are now in custody.

Mr Puigdemont's comments come just days after the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, told a judge investigating her and five other colleagues for rebellion that the declaration of independence had been merely "symbolic".

In Catalonia's parliament on October 27, Ms Forcadell read out a proclamation of Catalonia as an independent republic in what was a preamble to a vote on the triggering of a "transitional law" as a step towards a new state.

One of the four regional ministers who fled to Belgium along with Mr Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí, has also admitted that her government "was not sufficiently prepared to apply independence".

Vote

Speaking in Barcelona on Sunday in his first visit to Catalonia since he imposed direct rule, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged Catalans to "vote massively" against separatist parties in a snap election he called in the region for December 21.

The nature of Mr Puigdemont's participation in the election remains unclear as he awaits a court hearing in Brussels on Spain's request to have him extradited.

Mr Puigdemont told 'Le Soir' he does "not wish to be a candidate for a political party".

But the idea of a unity list of Catalan parties and civil society organisations has lost strength. Two major pro-independence forces, the Catalan Republican Left and the anti-capitalist CUP, announced that they would be running separately in the poll next month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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