Pro-independence Quim Torra appointed Catalan leader | News | DW | 14.05.2018
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Pro-independence Quim Torra appointed Catalan leader

Quim Torra was elected after receiving the blessing of the region's exiled former president, Carles Puigdemont. Torra has promised to continue his predecessor's secessionist policies.

The hard-line separatist Quim Torra was elected as Catalan president on Monday, ending nearly six months of political paralysis at the top of the autonomous region of Spain.

Torra was handpicked by exiled former leader Carles Puigdemont, and obtained the necessary majority during the second round of voting. Sixty-six members of the 135-seat Catalan parliament voted for Torra, while 65 voted against and four abstained.

There has been a power vacuum in Barcelona ever since Puigdemont declared independence for the region last October in the wake of a secession referendum outlawed by Madrid. The move forced him to flee Spain, facing charges of sedition and rebellion.

Madrid sacked the rest of Catalonia's leadership and called fresh regional elections for December, in which the pro-independence bloc lost power but maintained a wafer-thin parliamentary majority. Four rounds of attempts to form a new government had failed before Monday's vote, as the leaders selected were either imprisoned or in exile.

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Former Catalan leader calls for dialogue with Spain

Torra vows to pursue secession

In a speech to parliamentarians after his election, Torra promised to pursue independence and referred specifically to Puigdemont, who is in Berlin waiting for a ruling on Spain's request to extradite him.

At the same time, officials at Germany's domestic intelligence agency (the BfV) announced that they had received information pointing to Russia's support of the secession movement. BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen said it was "very plausible" that Russian agents had disseminated anti-Madrid disinformation and propaganda.

es/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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