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VOA: Catalan’s Fugitive Leader to Campaign From Brussels

VOA: Catalan’s Fugitive Leader to Campaign From Brussels

16 November 2017 | 12:17 | FOCUS News Agency
Brussels. The fugitive leader of Catalonia’s secessionist movement said Wednesday that he will again be his party’s leading candidate in upcoming elections for the Spanish region while he fights extradition from Belgium, Voice of America reported.
Carles Puigdemont told El Punt-Avui television from Brussels that he is handpicking a list of candidates to run under him in Dec. 21 elections for Catalonia’s regional parliament, which were called by Spain’s national government after the region’s legislators voted to declare independence.
He said that the list, running under the name “Together For Catalonia” (Junts pel Catalunya), will include members from his Democratic Party of Catalonia (PDeCAT) and some independents without a background in politics.
“I have told PDeCAT that I need to make a list that is more mine than of the party so the greatest number of people feel comfortable,” Puigdemont said. “PDeCAT has accepted it and is working toward it.”
The Democratic Party of Catalonia confirmed to The Associated Press that its national board decided Wednesday to accept Puigdemont’s proposal to create his own list.
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AFP: Catalan ex-leader says independence not only solution to crisis

AFP: Catalan ex-leader says independence not only solution to crisis

13 November 2017 | 14:22 | FOCUS News Agency
Brussels. The deposed leader of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont said Monday that there could be solutions to Spain's political crisis other than independence for his region, insisting he was still open to "agreement" with Madrid, AFP reported.
"I've always been willing to accept the new reality of a different relationship with Spain," Puigdemont said in Brussels, where he travelled to after his government declared independence from Spain last month.
"It's still possible. I've been pro-independence all my life, working for 30 years to secure a different way of integrating Catalonia within Spain. I'm still for an agreement," the former leader told Belgium's Le Soir newspaper.
Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decades when Catalan lawmakers voted to split from Madrid following a banned referendum in the wealthy northeastern region on October 1.
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AFP: Spain's Rajoy urges return of 'democratic and free' Catalonia

AFP: Spain's Rajoy urges return of 'democratic and free' Catalonia

12 November 2017 | 16:43 | FOCUS News Agency
Barcelona. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Sunday he wanted to return to a "democratic and free" Catalonia as he aimed to rally support for a unified Spain on his first visit to the turbulent region since it declared independence, AFP reported.
A day after hundreds of thousands of people marched in Barcelona to demand the release of separatist officials detained over their independence drive, Rajoy also urged businesses not to flee the wealthy northern region.
"We have to recover the sensible, practical, enterprising and dynamic Catalonia... that has contributed so much to the progress of Spain and Europe," Rajoy told members of his Popular Party in Barcelona.
"We want to regain a Catalonia for everyone, democratic and free," he added.
The Catalonia crisis has caused concern in the European Union as the bloc deals with Brexit and uncertainty over the fate of the region's 7.5 million people. More than 2,400 businesses have moved their legal headquarters elsewhere.
Rajoy on Sunday urged those businesses "not to go".
Separatist lawmakers, who were dismissed by Madrid after declaring their region independence from Spain last month, insist that they were given a mandate for secession by a banned October 1 referendum.
However, pro-unity camps say that the vote was deeply flawed and largely boycotted by opponents of independence, though more than 90 percent of those who turned out backed a breakaway.
Several officials have been detained over their role in pushing for independence, which is outlawed under Spain's post civil-war constitution.
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The Local: Mass protest in Barcelona demands freedom for Catalan leaders

The Local: Mass protest in Barcelona demands freedom for Catalan leaders

11 November 2017 | 19:25 | FOCUS News Agency
Barcelona. Tens of thousands of Catalans gathered Saturday to demand the release of regional officials who were jailed for their push for independence from Spain, which has left the country mired in a political crisis, The Local writes.
The march kicked off in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, at 5pm and came a day after the region's parliament speaker -- one of dozens of lawmakers sacked by Madrid last month -- was released from jail after posting 150,000 euros bail.

Thousands gathered on an avenue next to the region's parliament building waving Catalan independence flags and chanting "Freedom!" while some held up banners announcing: "SOS Democracy".

Children in riding helmets climbed castells -- the region's traditional human towers -- as others held placards bearing caricatures of some jailed lawmakers.

On Wednesday a general strike called by a pro-independence union caused travel chaos, blocking 60 roads and train lines including Spain's main highway link to France and the rest of Europe.

Barcelona's popular mayor, just hours before she was due to attend the rally, railed against the actions of dismissed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's government.

"They've provoked tensions and carried out a unilateral independence declaration which the majority do not want," Ada Colau told a meeting of her party members.

"They've tricked the population for their own interests."

Eight members of the axed Catalan cabinet are currently detained on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

A further six fired officials including parliament speaker Carme Forcadell were granted bail this week on similar charges by Spain's Supreme Court.

Puigdemont is in self-imposed exile in Belgium awaiting a hearing on possible extradition back to Spain after Madrid issued a EU-wide warrant.
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AFP: Speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament leaves jail

AFP: Speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament leaves jail

10 November 2017 | 15:47 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. The speaker of Catalonia's sacked regional parliament has left a prison near Madrid after she posted bail of 150,000 euros ($175,000), the Interior Ministry said Friday, AFP reported.
Carme Forcadell had been held since late Thursday on charges of "rebellion" over her role in the regional government's push for independence.
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AFP: Catalan speaker has bail paid, may leave jail

AFP: Catalan speaker has bail paid, may leave jail

10 November 2017 | 13:56 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. The speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament has had her 150,000-euro bail paid, paving the way for her release after she was detained over the region's bid for independence, a court said Friday, AFP reported.
"The bail for Carme Forcadell has been received, we're just waiting for the judge's order to free her," a spokeswoman for Spain's Supreme Court told reporters.
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