Catalonia's ex-leader Puigdemont vows to form government from abroad
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Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont vowed Monday to form a new government despite "threats" from the central government in Madrid after a Spanish judge refused to re-issue a European warrant for his arrest.
"We will not surrender to authoritarianism despite Madrid's threats," Puigdemont said at a debate on Catalonia at the University of Copenhagen.
"Soon we will form a new government ... it's time to end their oppression and find a political solution for Catalonia," the 55-year-old politician added.
Puigdemont's comments came hours after the speaker of the Catalan parliament proposed him as president of Catalonia following an election in December in which separatist parties once again won an absolute majority.
Roger Torrent said Puigdemont's candidacy to return as head of Catalonia's regional government is "absolutely legitimate" even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings in Spain over his role in Catalonia's outlawed independence bid.
With his arrival in Denmark, Puigdemont defied Spanish prosecutors' attempts to re-issue a European arrest warrant if he left Belgium, where he has been in exile since a failed October declaration of independence from Spain. Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena turned down the warrant request.
"Fundamental freedoms have been undermined, democratically elected politicians have been sent to prison and treated like terrorists," he said in Copenhagen, describing Spain's moves to arrest pro-independence Catalonian politicians as acts of "revenge".
Puigdemont is now eyeing a return to power after pro-independence parties won an absolute majority in Catalonian regional elections in December.
He wants to be sworn in from Belgium, where he fled in late October after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence and Madrid sacked his cabinet over their breakaway attempt.
Charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, Puigdemont faces arrest if he returns to Spain over his role in the independence drive.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated on Saturday that governing Catalonia from abroad would be "illegal".
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)