Former Catalan President renounces leadership from exile

Puigdemont appoints a candidate to chair the Generalitat

The speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent said in a statement on Friday he had proposed Torra as a candidate to be regional president after consulting with political parties, and the parliament would vote on the appointment on Saturday.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spain's central government sacked Puigdemont and his cabinet and imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region after it unilaterally declared independence on October 27.

The far-left pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party said it would abstain from an investiture vote in the regional parliament on Monday.

Torra, a 55-year-old father-of-three, is a dyed-in-the-wool independence advocate cut from the same cloth as Puigdemont, who has tasked him with continuing his fight with Spain's central government to achieve independence.

Former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, attends a a meeting with members of the Junts per Catalunya party, in a hotel in Berlin, Saturday, April 5, 2018.

He was handpicked as a candidate by deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, now in exile in Germany and facing jail on rebellion charges for last year's secession bid if he returns to Spain.

The declaration came just weeks after Catalan separatist authorities held a referendum despite a court ban, which was marred by police violence as security forces tried to stop people from voting.

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However, pro-independence parties again won a majority of seats.

Since the last elections in December, four attempts to form a government have failed because the presidential candidates were either in self-imposed exile or in custody.

Fresh polls will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Mr Puigdemont also explained he plans to remain the worldwide voice of the Catalan government, while Mr Torra, if invested, would oversee the region's internal affairs.

But since then, all candidates proposed by the separatist camp to lead Catalonia have fallen flat, as they are either overseas and wanted by Spain, or already in prison, charged with rebellion.

Puigdemont is now in Germany after being detained there in March on a European arrest warrant against him issued by Spain.

A German court last month dismissed the extradition request for Puigdemont on the rebellion allegations and released him on bail.

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