Catalan parliament to vote on new president: speaker


Barcelona (AFP)

Catalonia's parliament is to hold a debate and vote Thursday on a new candidate for regional president, Jordi Turull, who risks being disqualified from holding office over his role in the region's separatist drive.

"I will propose to the chamber that Jordi Turull be candidate for president," Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent told reporters late Wednesday, just hours after Turull was summoned to appear in court on Friday.

Turull, a former Catalan government spokesman, is under investigation over Catalonia's secession drive but remains free under bail.

He was third on ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's "Together for Catalonia" list in December elections which saw separatist parties retain their absolute majority.

A Supreme Court judge has summoned Turull and other Catalan separatist leaders under probe on Friday to tell them exactly what they are charged with.

According to a court document seen Wednesday by AFP, the judge will also decide whether or not to remand Turull and the others in custody.

Puigdemont, who was sacked by Madrid after Catalan lawmakers declared independence last October. He left for Belgium, where he now lives in self-exile, and was the separatist party's first candidate to lead the region again.

But he faces arrest if he returns to Spain, and he eventually dropped his bid after Spain's Constitutional Court ruled he could not be appointed remotely.

The separatist party's second choice, Jordi Sanchez, a separatist civic leader in jail over his alleged role in Catalonia's secession drive, has also dropped his bid to lead the region, Torrent said earlier Wednesday.