Catalan ex-leader to launch new party a year after independence bid

Catalan ex-leader to launch new party a year after independence bid
Photo: AFP
Catalonia's deposed president Carles Puigdemont will launch a new party on October 27th, the first anniversary of the Spanish region's failed declaration of independence, his spokesman said Thursday.

“The party's main goal is to implement the mandate of October 1,” Puigdemont's spokesman Toni Morral told reporters, referring to a contested independence referendum held on that date last year which was used to justify the secession attempt several weeks later.

“Once this goal is achieved this organisation will no longer make sense and it will dissolve,” he added, without specifying how they intended to achieve this objective.

The new party, which is backed by Puigdemont's successor Quim Torra, claims to already have 50,000 supporters. It aims to brings together the region's separatists, who are currently divided among three different parliamentary groups.

The previous Catalan administration headed by Puigdemont pressed ahead with the independence referendum last year even though it had been banned by the courts and the vote was marred by police violence.   

A majority voted for independence, but turnout was low as opponents did not show up for the vote.

Sacked as Catalan president after the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27th to no effect, Puigdemont and several members of his executive fled to Brussels several days later.   

He is wanted by Spain for rebellion, which carries up to 25 years in jail, and misuse of public funds over his role in the independence push.   

Polls show Catalonia's roughly 7.5 million people are divided on the question of independence, but an overwhelming majority back a legal referendum to settle the question.

Puigedemont was put on the spot in an interview earlier this week on Flemish public television station, VRT. Geert Noels, an economist, asked Puigdemont why he fled the country instead of facing arrest and pre-trial custody “with your friends”.

Watch the clip here: 


READ MORE: Catalonia independence crisis one year on