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Catalan separatists aim to elect new regional president

Catalan separatists aim to elect new regional president

In Saturday's vote, candidate Quim Torra, a close ally of former leader Carles Puigdemont, was backed by 66 politicians - falling short of the 68 votes needed to be elected. The speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent said in a statement on Friday that he had proposed Torra as a candidate for regional president after consulting with political parties, Reuters said.

The party said in a tweet that while it will "not block the formation of a new government" it intends to be "an active opposition".

Puigdemont, who left the country to avoid prosecution, is awaiting a German court ruling on whether he should be extradited to Spain to stand trial on charges of rebellion related to leading Catalonia's tumultuous independence drive.

In March, Torra gave a rousing speech to the regional parliament calling on separatists to keep up their campaign against the central government.

If CUP abstains in the second vote, a simple majority will be enough to see Torra elected as the 131st leader of the region and bring an end to the central Spanish government control which has been in place in Catalonia since October 27, 2017.

Torra lambasted European institutions for their "unacceptable silence" over the Catalan crisis.

But he did say he was "ready to talk tomorrow without conditions" with the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid.

Both the Spanish government and the courts have declared the secession illegal and vowed to block it.

He also warned that under Article 155 of the constitution, which the government used to impose direct rule on Catalonia, "could be used again if necessary", if the next regional leadership did not respect the law.

Polls show that the wealthy region's 7.5 million residents are evenly divided on whether Catalonia should secede from Spain. It has its own distinct language and cultural traditions. "He makes a call to clash, to have more confrontation", she said.

The Catalan separatist movement has caused the worst political and institutional crisis in Spain in decades.

He is the fourth candidate to attempt to fill the role following a regional election in December in which pro-independence parties won a slim majority.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since December past year when pro-independence parties won early elections called by the central government.