Catalan separatists want to re-elect fugitive ex-leader

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Radical leftists say they will not block separatist candidate.

That day, Rajoy also sacked Puigdemont and all his ministers after the regional parliament declared independence following a referendum that wasn't sanctioned by Madrid and was banned by the courts.

The announcement came after Spain's Constitutional Court on Wednesday accepted an appeal form the government that blocked pro-independence politicians in Catalonia from voting in Puigdemont while he remains in exile.

In a video statement from Germany, the Catalan leader proposed member of parliament Quim Torra as candidate for head of the Catalan government as the region attempts to put an end to a seven-month impasse and form an administration.

Torra needs an absolute majority to get through, and if he doesn't, he will get another opportunity in a second round, likely to take place on Monday, where he will only need a simple majority.

Mr Torra (55) is not facing any charges in connection with last autumn's failed independence drive, meaning his candidacy has no apparent legal obstacles.

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Puigdemont had hoped to again be elected president of Catalonia in December, when separatists won fresh elections in the region.

He was handpicked by the deposed former president, Carles Puigdemont, regarded by secessionists as the rightful leader but now in Germany facing extradition proceedings on rebellion charges.

He proposed political newcomer Quim Torra as his successor, urging the next regional executive to build an independent country.

The Spanish government said Mr Torra's speech was "confrontational".

But since then, all candidates proposed by the separatist camp to lead Catalonia have fallen flat, as they are either overseas and wanted by Spain, or already in prison, charged with rebellion.

Puigdemont, who first fled to Belgium, was detained in Germany in March after Spain issued a European arrest warrant against him.

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