BARCELONA – The speaker of the Catalonia regional parliament decided on Tuesday to postpone a debate session ahead of the investiture of the regional president until the Spanish Constitutional Court made a ruling regarding the re-election of the recently ousted leader.
Roger Torrent said this delay would give the Court time to resolve all pleas presented by the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party, of which the recently ousted president Carles Puigdemont is a member, regarding Saturday’s decision to not allow the former regional leader to be invested via teleconference.
Puigdemont is currently in self-imposed exile in Belgium, where he is fleeing from charges of sedition and rebellion leveled against him for his participation in organizing an independence referendum and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence last year.
“Neither Vice President Soraya Saenz de Santamaria nor the Constitutional Court will decide who has to be the president of Catalonia. It’s up to the democratically elected members of parliament to do so,” said Torrent, insisting he would not propose any other candidates to the chamber other than Puigdemont.
Torrent’s announcement came after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned him that he would be held responsible if Puigdemont were presented for questioning via teleconference by the chamber ahead of his potential investiture.
The former president must receive Supreme Court permission to attend the session in person, but would risk being immediately put into pre-trial detention, the fate that met three other pro-independence figureheads, including ex-vice president Oriol Junqueras.
The Spanish government has said that the former Catalan leader, who received backing from the pro-independence parties that hold a slight majority in the regional Parliament, must be present in person for the debate and subsequent investiture, originally slated for Tuesday and Wednesday.