BARCELONA – Thousands of pro-separatist demonstrators gathered outside the regional Catalan parliament building in Barcelona on Tuesday in response to the postponement of a controversial investiture debate aimed at reinstating the ousted former regional leader.
The protest, organized by the pro-independence National Catalan Assembly (ANC) organization, made its way from the local government headquarters at Barcelona’s Sant Jaume Square to the regional parliament to coincide with the original time slated for a plenary debate to re-invest self-exiled Carles Puigdemont, which was earlier delayed by the parliamentary speaker, fellow separatist Roger Torrent.
Outside Parliament, demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Puigdemont is our president” and “freedom for political prisoners” whilst waving pro-Catalan independence flags and posters of the deposed former regional president.
Puigdemont was currently in Brussels fleeing a Spanish arrest warrant for an investigation into allegations of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds in relation to his leading role in a banned Catalan referendum and subsequent independence declaration that took place in October 2017, after which he was sacked by the Spanish government.
However, separatist parties won a slim majority in the Catalan parliament during the Dec. 21 snap elections and later unanimously gave their support for Puigdemont to re-assume his former role from afar, an initiative that Spanish authorities have said would be impossible, insisting he must be present at the debate in person, a hypothetical situation that would lead to his immediate arrest.
Torrent said he wanted to guarantee Puigdemont’s immunity, adding that he would wait until the Constitutional Court had given its final decision on several pleas lodged by separatist groups regarding investitures from a distance.
Several former Catalan politicians, including ex-vice president Oriol Junqueras, remained in pretrial detention in Madrid.