Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont, who lives in self-exile in Belgium, said in a video posted on social media on Thursday that he is not coming back to lead the region again.
Instead, he suggested Jordi Sanchez, jailed leader of a pro-independent group ANC, as his preferred choice for presidency.
Let there be a leader and government without delay so that Caatalonia regains its autonomy, Puigdemont said.
But the chances of Sanchez getting elected as president look remote as he is serving a four-month jail term for sedition.
Madrid welcomed Puigdemon’s decision to give up the candidacy adding that Catalonia needs a regional president as soon as possible.
In the video, Puigdemont said the struggle for Catalonia’a cause will continue.
“We won’t surrender, we won’t give up,” he said, adding “I know the path we have ahead is long and fraught with difficulties.”
Puigdemont said his lawyers have taken the case of separatists, who face repression under Spain, to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
It is not known whether Puigdemont may still be given a ‘symbolic’ role in Belgium while another candidate would be picked to ‘temporarily’ lead Catalonia from Barcelona.
On Thursday, Catalonia’s majority separatist parliament approved a motion defending him as the ‘legitimate’ candidate for the regional presidency — a clear message that he should, for the time being at least, step aside and allow another candidate to lead Catalonia.
The motion also stated that the separatists were “favourable to the constitution of Catalonia as an independent state”, stopping short of saying that they want full independence.