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Spain slams Catalonia’s cabinet picks as ‘provocation’

20 May 2018 13:03


The ruling party in Spain has denounced as “provocation” the nominations by Catalonia’s new leader to his regional government, as the picks are of politicians who are either jailed by Madrid or are awaiting trial or in self-imposed exile.

Catalonia’s new President Quim Torra on Saturday named 13 cabinet members, among whom were two former ministers imprisoned for backing a controversial movement of secession from Spain and two others who had fled into exile with ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Jordi Turull and Josep Rull are currently being held in custody just outside Madrid, and Antoni Comin and Lluis Puig i Gordi are in Brussels and are wanted by the Spanish police.

“The composition of the new (Catalan government) is a clear message that they want to continue with the problems, the conflict, and provocation,” the ruling People Party’s (PP) candidate in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, said on Twitter after Torra’s announcement.

Catalonia has been under direct rule by Madrid since the central government deposed Puigdemont following a failed declaration of independence on October 27 last year.

Torra has installed his cabinet by decree, but Madrid can still block it as authorities insist the new administration must be “legal and viable.”

Torra was elected by the Catalan parliament and sworn in last week, in a move that seemed to mark the end of nearly seven months of political limbo in the northeastern Spanish region.

Catalonia elects fierce separatist as leader

Quim Torra, a hardline separatist politician, is elected as Catalonia’s new leader.

The 55-year-old, who is viewed as a fierce secessionist leader, was elected the Catalan president after the region’s parliament failed to reinstate Puigdemont, who is now in Germany waiting a ruling on Spain’s extradition request.

Torra, who has vowed to continue to push for the region’s independence from Spain, has described himself as a “caretaker president” as he awaits the return of Puigdemont, whom he considers the “legitimate” leader of the region.

Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont addresses a press conference in Berlin, Germany, May 15, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The new Catalan leader has also pledged to build on the results of the banned referendum, which purportedly saw more than 90 percent of half of Catalonia’s eligible voters endorse its separation from Spain.

Catalonia, an industrial region with a strong export sector and a thriving tourist destination, produces about a fifth of the Spanish economic output but complains that it receives a lot less back from the central government.

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