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Puigdemont rejects new appointment as Catalan leader, proposes successor

AFP file photo

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday rejected being re-appointed as leader of the region, following pressure from Spain's government.

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In a video statement from Germany, he proposed political newcomer Quim Torra as his successor.

Catalan lawmakers must pick a leader to form a government by May 22 to avert more elections. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called elections in December after sacking the previous administration for illegally declaring independence.

Puigdemont was detained in Germany in March on a European arrest warrant and was re-appointed as president after the regional parliament voted through reforms allowing him to take the role without being present.

>> Catalonia's ex-leader Puigdemont vows to form government from abroad

The fugitive former Catalan leader made a renewed call in early April for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over Catalonia's secession claim, a day after he was released from a German prison. A German court refused a request from Spain to extradite him on rebellion charges.

Puigdemont told reporters that he hoped the German court's decision not to extradite him to Spain shows that "dialogue is needed" to defuse the political conflict in his home country.

>> Catalan election campaign kicks off with some candidates still jailed

"I hope the situation could help ... Spanish authorities understand that political measures are needed," Puigdemont said at a press conference in Berlin. "This opens a new opportunity of dialogue."

The former leader left a German prison in Neumuenster on bail after the Schwesig state court in Germany decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition because the accusation isn't punishable under German law.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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