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Puigdemont Says Can Govern Catalonia From Belgium

Puigdemont Says Can Govern Catalonia From BelgiumPuigdemont Says Can Govern Catalonia From Belgium

The sacked former leader of Catalonia said on Friday he was perfectly eligible to be reelected as regional president and there was no reason why he could not rule the Spanish region remotely from self-imposed exile in Brussels.

Supporters of Carles Puigdemont, who faces arrest for charges including sedition and rebellion if he returns to Spain, have suggested he could rule via video link—earning him the sobriquet ‘the hologram president’ from detractors, Reuters reported.

“I am a member of parliament who is perfectly eligible as president,” Puigdemont told Catalunya Radio. “These days many big projects are handled with the use of new technologies.”

Referring to the charges against him, he added, “You can’t rule from prison.”

Puigdemont’s administration was dismissed by the central government in Madrid after he spearheaded a drive for the wealthy northeastern region to split from Spain that culminated in an October declaration of independence.

He regained his seat in the Catalan parliament in a Dec. 21 election that was called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the hope that pro-unity parties would win and resolve Spain’s worst political crisis in decades. That ploy backfired, with parties in favor of a split gaining a slim majority.

Puigdemont moved to Brussels shortly after he was fired by Madrid but has said he would return to Catalonia if the Spanish government gave him certain “guarantees”, probably a promise not to arrest him.

Other Catalan independence leaders including Oriol Junqueras, leader of the second-biggest separatist party in the regional parliament, are serving custodial sentences in Madrid for their roles in planning an independence referendum.

The Catalan parliamentary committee, which has a pro-independence majority, must decide by Jan. 31 if it will allow presidential candidates to present remotely.

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