Puigdemont pulls back from candidacy for Catalan leadership

Parliament claims the illegal referendum and the figure of Puigdemont

Catalonia's former separatist leader, Carles Puigdemont, has withdrawn his candidacy for president of the Spanish region after months of political deadlock with Madrid. He said that "with the greatest sadness" he had informed the speaker of the Catalan parliament that he was unable to retake the post and that an alternative candidate should be chosen.

But the Spanish government says it will not allow anybody facing legal action over secession to become Catalan president.

Mr Puigdemont's stepping aside came hours after the Catalan parliament voted to support him and his candidacy, and to reaffirm the result of the referendum. Puigdemont was also dismissed.

In his filmed speech, Puigdemont said he was renouncing his bid to lead Catalonia again so that the region now under direct Madrid rule could get a new government.

Puigdemont will name pro-independence campaigner Jordi Sanchez, now in jail on remand in Madrid for charges of sedition, for his successor as candidate, the paper said.

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The plebiscite was not, however, recognized by Madrid, which subsequently imposed direct rule over the autonomous region and dismissed its government.

Spanish authorities accuse Puigdemont of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds over his role in an illegal referendum to secede from Spain and parliament's declaration of unilateral independence in October a year ago.

Catalonia's future has been deadlocked since defiant secessionists gained a slim majority in the Catalan parliament in December's regional election.

The former president of Generalitat Carles Puigdemont has officialized this Wednesday that he renounces to recover presidency and has indicated as substitute to number two of list Junts per Catalunya, Jordi Sànchez, imprisoned for four months in Soto del Real by Alleged crimes of rebellion and sedition. "I'm confident that we will win in the end, and one day, I will be able to return to Catalonia as a free man", Puigdemont said at the end of the video.

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