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Catalonia Postpones Vote for New Regional President, Sticks with Puigdemont

Catalonia Postpones Vote for New Regional President, Sticks with Puigdemont

Roger Torrent, the pro-independence speaker of the house, said at a press conference on Tuesday that there would not be a vote until he has "guarantees" that the Spanish government "will not interfere" in his investiture.

Extra police were deployed outside the parliament on Tuesday in case Mr Puigdemont turned up surreptitiously, and there was also a helicopter overhead.

The Spanish Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday that Tuesday's investiture debate could continue, but that Puigdemont could not be invested by video link and would have to be present, despite the threat of immediate arrest.

"I won't propose any other candidate", he said, putting paid to speculation that separatists might drop Puigdemont and pick another candidate.

But while he delayed the session Torrent defended Puigdemont's candidacy.

Spain seized control of the region by firing Puigdemont and his government and dissolving parliament following the independence declaration.

However, he wants to rule the region, after making a deal to lead a separatist coalition, following elections last month. He remains in exile in Belgium as he faces rebellion and sedition charges.

The Spanish Supreme Court said it would not re-activate a European Arrest Warrant for the leader, however, having withdrawn it in December to prevent the Belgian government granting Mr. Puigdemont asylum.

The constitutional court also said he must get permission to attend the session, however it is not clear whether he will seek it.

An October referendum on secession was ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired the region's administration when it declared independence.

Following new elections in December, an alliance of pro-independence parties won a majority again - albeit a narrower one than before.

A referendum on secession in October past year was ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court.

Enric Millo, the Spanish government's representative in Catalonia, today rejected claims of interference, describing them as "false and perverse". They also say they will take legal action if Puigdemont attempts to rule from overseas. Their numbers dwindled after dusk, but around 100 people set up camp and planned to spend the night near the regional parliament. "Puigdemont, our president!" many could be heard shouting.

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