Carles Puigdemont Ends His Bid To Regain Catalan Presidency

Carles Puigdemont Ends His Bid To Regain Catalan Presidency

Carles Puigdemont Ends His Bid To Regain Catalan Presidency

"I will not put myself forward as candidate to be appointed regional president", Puigdemont, who is in self-exile in Belgium and wanted in Spain for his role in the failed secession bid, said in a video posted on social media.

Spanish authorities accuse Puigdemont of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds over his role in an illegal referendum to secede from Spain and parliament's declaration of unilateral independence in October a year ago. Puigdemont was at the forefront of the movement for Catalonia's independence from Spain that led to massive protests in 2017 and resulted in the country's worst political crisis in decades.

In his filmed speech, Puigdemont said he was renouncing his bid to lead Catalonia again so that the region now under direct Madrid rule could get a new government.

Mr Puigdemont is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, as he faces charges of sedition and rebellion in Spain, and he fears arrest should he return to Spain.

Madrid has been ruling Catalonia directly for the past four months, since Rajoy invoked constitutional powers to take over governance of the autonomous region.

Pro-independence parties have suggested he could rule virtually from Brussels, a suggestion rejected by Catalan parliament legal experts and the Spanish government.

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The nomination of Sànchez is likely to be just as fraught with difficulty, given that he is in detention.

Rajoy said on Thursday 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".

Carles Puigdemont has withdrawn himself from consideration as leader of Catalonia.

His office added that Catalonia needed a leader "in place as soon as possible who is able to govern and take care of matters of importance to its citizens".

Earlier on Thursday, the Catalan parliament had voted to support Puigdemont and reaffirm the validity of a banned October 1 referendum on independence in a tense first session of parliament since elections in December.

Mr Puigdemont's stepping aside came hours after the Catalan parliament voted to support him and his candidacy, and to reaffirm the result of the referendum.

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