President postponed: Day of drama delayed as Catalan crisis drags on

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DELAYED: Catalans were braced for a day of drama but former President Puigdemont now seems unlikely to return to Spain today

THE SPEAKER in the Catalan parliament has delayed a vote on who will become the region’s president. 

Spain was set for a day of drama but speaker Roger Torrent has delayed proceedings amid fears that Carles Puigdemont – the ousted and exiled President – would be arrested. 

Mr Torrent said Puigdemont, who is currently living is Belgium, remains the only person he will nominate to be president, ahead of a vote in the Catalan parliament. 

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“I will not propose any candidate that is not Puigdemont”, he said this morning.

Mr Torrent did not set a date for the next session. 

Puigdemont, who was sacked by the Spanish government following an illegal referendum and declaration of independence, has been in self-imposed exile in Belgium. 

However, he wants to rule the region, after making a deal to lead a separatist coalition, following elections last month. 

And last night rumours were swirling that he could make a surprise return to Spain, risking arrest.

Puigdemont is expected to be arrested as soon as he returns to the country. Madrid have an arrest warrant on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. 

On Saturday, the country’s constitutional court ruled that he must be present in parliament to become president.  

The constitutional court also said he must get permission to attend the session, however it is not clear whether he will seek it. The Spanish newspaper El Pais has claimed that the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other cabinet members personally made contact with judges before the ruling. 

Puigdemont’s party came second in the regional elections, but independence groups retained their overall majority and are set to work together and continue to push for independence. 

An illegal referendum last year showed strong support for the idea, but polls remain relatively close. 

The Spanish government is deeply opposed to the idea. They also say they will take legal action if Puigdemont attempts to rule from abroad. 

Like a number of other representatives, Puigdemont was not present when the regional parliament was sworn in two weeks ago. 

Party officials have been seeking legal advice and exploring how Puigdemont can become president without being arrested. 

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