Jailed Catalan separatist demands unity

Jailed Catalan separatist demands unity

Catalonia’s jailed former vice-president has called for an end to the deadlock in the breakaway region’s parliament over the appointment of the next president.

Oriol Junqueras said the pro-independence movement must look beyond self-exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont still claims to be the region’s legitimate leader, despite being in exile in Belgium.

The push for independence has divided opinion in Catalonia, caused deep resentment elsewhere in Spain and prompted thousands of employers based in the relatively wealthy northeastern region to relocate to avoid potential fallout.

Junqueras was arrested in November for his role in October’s botched declaration of independence from Spain.

The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) boss is being held without bail on accusations of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

“The strength of a popular, democratic and non-violent movement resides above all in its capacity to broaden itself,” Junqueras told the BBC in written answers from Estremera prison near Madrid.

“It is the sum of many actors and social sectors, among them the leaders of parties. That is our strength.”

Puigdemont pro-independence coalition, Together for Catalonia, won 34 seats in the emergency December 21 election. He faces the same charges as Junqueras.

Junqueras’ allies won 32 seats.

“Our priority is to implement the results of December 21. To do that we need to get our government back in a very complex scenario,” Junqueras said.

“I am sure we will reach an agreement to form a government, and soon. It’s a necessity.”

Swiss exile

Another pro-independence leader has fled Spain, claiming she will not get a fair trial.

Anna Gabriel, a former regional MP from the leftist CUP party, is in Switzerland after dodging an appointment in Madrid this week to face charges in the Supreme Court.

“Since I will not have a fair trial at home, I have looked for a country that can protect my rights,” Gabriel told Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

“I won’t go to Madrid. I’m wanted for my political activities and the government press has already declared me guilty.”

Gabriel said she was considering asking for permanent asylum should there be an extradition request from Spain, saying she would be more useful to her party in Geneva than in jail. She said she had received regular death threats.


A pro-union protester in Barcelona. Picture credit: YouTube

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