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Debate to swear in Puigdemont postponed

Parliament President says Catalan leader remains the "only candidate" for the presidency

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30 January 2018 10:55 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

The debate in Parliament to swear in Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont as president of the government has been "postponed". The chamber president, Roger Torrent, announced the decision on Tuesday morning, hours before the session was due to start at 3pm. Torrent said the debate "is not cancelled" but will be held only when there are "guarantees" that it will be "effective".

The Spanish Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday that Puigdemont, who has the support of a majority of MPs, cannot be elected from Brussels and must ask a judge permission to attend the parliamentary session. Puigdemont has been living in Belgium for three months, and although he is a free man in the EU, he would be immediately arrested if he sets foot in Spain, where a judge wants him for alleged crimes of rebellion and sedition.

"The Spanish Vice President and the Constitutional Court will not decide who will be the Catalan President. That is up to the democratically elected MPs," said Torrent in a statement on Tuesday morning. He explained that the Parliament’s legal services are working to appeal against the precautionary measures that the Constitutional Court applied to Puigdemont's election.

"I will not put forward any other candidate to the presidency of the Catalan government than Puigdemont," Torrent said. According to him, the Catalan leader has "the right" and "all the legitimacy" to become president. "I have a personal commitment to protect his parliamentary immunity," he added.

The Catalan Parliament president insisted that the candidate for president in the investiture debate will be the MP with majority support in Parliament. Torrent also stressed that under no circumstances will the candidate be chosen by a “court” or by “a minister in an office” in Madrid. “The people of Catalonia deserve respect,” he pointed out.   

  • "The Spanish Vice President and the Constitutional Court will not decide who will be the Catalan President. That is up to the democratically elected MPs" 

    Roger Torrent · Catalan Parliament president

A “necessary consequence” of the rule of law, says Spanish government

Meanwhile, the Spanish government claimed that the investiture debate’s postponement is a “necessary consequence” of the functioning of the rule of law. After the announcement made by the Catalan Parliament president, the Spanish executive said that Torrent’s decision is a mark of “respect for legality,” and claimed that it is a consequence of the actions of the Spanish government and the courts.

"Thanks to the Spanish government's appeal and the decisions of the Spanish Constitutional Court, today we have avoided a mockery of our democracy," said Spanish government sources. They added that Torrent’s decision to postpone the investiture debate is a sign that “the pro-independence parties know they must comply with the law like other citizens.” Rajoy’s cabinet went on to insist that they “will continue to defend the law and the institutions.”

Puigdemont calls for “respect for civil and political rights”

Before the statement by the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont called for “respect for civil and political rights” via Twitter, and he pointed out that this respect is “fundamental for peace.” He also posted an image of the first article of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, which states that “all peoples have the right to self-determination.”

The image also shows the Convention’s preamble, which points out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the rights of people to "political and civil freedom.” On the occasion of the Day of Peace, Puigdemont stressed that it is a "good day” to “recall" the contents of the international agreement.

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  • Catalan Parliament president, Roger Torrent (by Rafa Garrido)