Carles Puigdemont Ends His Bid To Regain Catalan Presidency

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Puigdemont used a 13-minute video shared on social media on Thursday night to confirm reports he was no longer seeking the presidency.

He said he made the decision so that a new regional government can be launched as soon as possible. Catalan parliamentary legal experts and the Spanish government as well rejected the notion of him governing from Brussels.

Suggestions had started to emerge that Puigdemont could be given a "symbolic" role in Belgium while another candidate would be picked to lead Catalonia from Barcelona. Puigdemont was also dismissed.

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

If he returns to Spain, he will automatically be arrested, as he faces serious charges of rebellion and sedition for leading the Catalan parliament to declare independence last October.

Madrid called a snap election for December previous year in hope of having a more moderate Catalan government to deal with, but its plan backfired when the region voted a majority of pro-independence MPs into parliament, maintaining the status quo.

Catalonia's regional parliament on Thursday slammed Spain's "shift towards authoritarianism", insisting that fugitive Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont - who remains in exile in Belgium - is their legitimate leader. Sanchez is in prison facing charges of sedition.

Jordi Sànchez, an MP now in custody under investigation for sedition, is being put forward by deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont for the position.

He added that he had "provisionally" called off his candidacy and was instead proposing Jordi Sànchez, an MP in his Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party and the former leader of the influential grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

Mr Puigdemont is a charismatic leader of the independence movement and is the preferred candidate of most Catalan secessionists to head the regional government.

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