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Catalonia: Spanish government to ask court to block Puigdemont's candidacy

By
Sara Shayanian
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont during a debate at The Political Science Department at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Photo by Ricardo Ramirez/EPA
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont during a debate at The Political Science Department at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Photo by Ricardo Ramirez/EPA

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Despite a procedural setback, the Spanish government indicated Friday it remains steadfast in its goal to use its constitutional court to prevent ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from regaining office.

Spain's State Council rejected Madrid's decision to dispute Pugidemont's candidacy on Friday because the state advisory body couldn't find legal justification for the move. However, the Spanish government will still attempt to block Pugidemont from being sworn in as the Catalan premier next week through the country's judicial system.

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Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Spain's deputy prime minister, said the federal government would use "all the instruments of the law" to keep Pugidemont out of his old job.

"We have consulted many experts and we see that this recourse is possible," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

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According the state council, the nomination of Pugidemont to a Catalan parliament position isn't directly violating the law. The council's decision, although not binding, alarmed Rajoy, who didn't expect the setback.

Puigdemont, who was deposed after Catalonia's independence vote last year, has been living in Brussels, Belgium, in order to avoid arrest in Spain. He faces charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of government funds.

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Last year, the Spanish government dissolved the Catalan Parliament after the legislative body declared its independence and called for snap elections in the region.

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Pro-independence parties won a majority of the legislative seats in voting, raising the possibility that Puigdemont could be re-appointed as the region's president.

The Spanish government will appeal to the constitutional court by arguing that Puigdemont doesn't have "freedom to roam about," because he faces criminal charges for helping organize and rally Catalonians to secede.

Even if the government's request is not accepted, Puigdemont could still be suspended after assuming the premier position.

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The Spanish government, led by Rajoy, is attempting to block Puigdemont from assuming power as his swearing in date -- Jan. 31 -- nears.

The government wants to avoid Puigdemont swearing in via Skype or video chat while he remains in Brussels.

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