Catalan president forms govt without jailed, exiled ministers

Madrid (AFP) –


Catalonia's separatist president signed a decree Tuesday nominating an administration that no longer includes jailed and exiled former ministers who backed its independence push, his office said in a statement.

Spain's central government earlier this month recognised the powers of newly elected Catalan leader Quim Torra but refused to ratify his choice of councillors because four of them are facing charges linked to last year's independence drive, calling their nomination "a new provocation".

Two of the four men are in custody awaiting trial at a jail near Madrid, while the other two are in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Madrid has vowed to maintain direct rule over Catalonia -- which it imposed after the region made a failed declaration of independence in October -- until a new regional government is in place.

Under the terms of emergency legislation brought in to take over the Catalan administration, Madrid must lift direct rule once a Catalan government is fully formed and cabinet members are sworn in.

The four exiled and jailed former ministers agreed with Torra's decision to nominate a new administration that no longer includes them as they "have always wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem" and want a new Catalan government to be formed "as soon as possible", Torra's office said in a statement.