Catalonia's ex-leader Puigdemont banned from EU polls – party

WHO'S NEXT? Carles Puigdemont proposes Quim Torra as his successor. AFP file photo

WHO'S NEXT? Carles Puigdemont proposes Quim Torra as his successor.

AFP file photo

MADRID, Spain – Election authorities have banned Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain in 2017 after a secession attempt, from running in EU polls, his party said Monday, April 29.

Together for Catalonia issued a statement accusing the electoral commission of wanting to "silence and push aside" Puigdemont "so that he can't explain what he represents at the heart of European institutions."

The commission decision, seen by Agence France-Presse, also excludes Toni Comin, who was in Catalonia's regional government when the secession bid happened and is now in self-exile in Belgium.

Clara Ponsati, another former Catalan minister who fled Spain and planned to run in the elections, has been banned as well.

The commission would not comment when contacted by AFP.

Puigdemont, Comin and Ponsati were all part of a push to hold an independence referendum in October 2017 in defiance of a court ban.

That sparked Spain's deepest political crisis in decades.

The referendum in the wealthy northeastern region was followed by a short-lived declaration of independence.

Then conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy promptly moved in, taking direct control of the region, sacking the Catalan executive and calling snap polls.

That prompted Puigdemont and others to flee Spain.

Those Catalan leaders who remained in Spain are now on trial in Madrid over their role in the secession bid. – Rappler.com