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Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Catalonia elects separatist leader as president

Catalonia elects separatist leader as president

Catalan MPs have elected a fervent separatist as the new chief of the region, ending a leadership vacuum of more than six months and setting the scene for more confrontations with the Spanish government.

Torra's election is expected to end the Spanish government's takeover of running Catalonia's affairs that started with an illegal declaration of independence by the regional parliament in October.

Torra is the fourth separatist candidate to lead the Catalan regional assembly after attempts to invest Jordi Turull and Jordi Sanchez failed as they are currently in prison, while former leader Carles Puigdemont is in Germany now.

Mr Puigdemont, who Mr Torra yesterday insisted remained the "legitimate president", has been accused of deliberately pursuing confrontation with his choice of successor.

But this time around, Torra only needed a simple majority to reach the presidency and in the process become the 131st president of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Torra said that, as president, he would work for a "republic for all", in which "everyone will enjoy all of their rights".

"Nobody will lose rights".

The Catalan separatist movement has caused the worst political and institutional crisis in Spain in decades. "We do not want a uniform Catalonia, but rather one united in diversity", he said.

But, in a nod to the political balancing act that Mr Torra faces, he also welcomed the prospect of dialogue with Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister.

Yet under the powers that Mr. Rajoy sought last October from the Spanish Senate, he committed to lifting direct rule once Catalonia held new elections, which took place in December, and lawmakers then voted a new regional president into office. He said his judgment on Mr Torra's appointment will depend on his actions. A great majority wants to settle the issue in a referendum, which under current law only the central government can set.

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