Puigdemont backs jailed Sànchez as presidential candidate after UN calls to protect his political rights
"Spain does not behave democratically of its own will, so let's make it answer to the international organizations that it must obey", says Catalan leader in letter
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will not try to be re-elected as president now that he is in prison in Germany. At least for now. In a letter to his Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) parliamentary group, Puigdemont said they should continue to support Jordi Sànchez as presidential candidate, especially after the UN Committee on Human Rights urged Spain to protect his "political rights".
Former activist Sànchez responded to Puigdemont’s letter with his own statement expressing his “complete willingness” to stand again as candidate for Catalan president. Sànchez, jailed in a Madrid prison, was JxCat’s second presidential candidate after Puigdemont’s bid was blocked by the Spanish courts. Yet, Sànchez’s investiture debate was never held, as the Spanish Supreme Court refused to release him to attend the vote.
Sànchez challenged the decision in the UN Committee on Human Rights, which urged the Spanish government to "protect his political rights". It is this that led Puigdemont to argue in his letter that JxCat should "politically and judicially" make use of this opportunity. Referring to Spain’s obligation to adhere to the UN Committee’s decisions as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Puigdemont stressed the “unprecedented” nature of the opportunity to reactivate Sànchez’s bid.
Also in his letter, Puigdemont argued that should the Spanish government choose to “ignore” the UN Committee’s ruling, “it will once again show that it is capable of anything in disrupting the normal functioning of democracy in Catalonia.” Calling such a reaction by Spain a “real possibility”, Puigdemont argued that it would also be an opportunity to defend the “political freedoms” of Catalonia. "Spain does not behave democratically of its own will, so let's make it answer to the international organizations that it must obey," Puigedemont added in a Twitter post.
To further clear the way for Sànchez, his party colleague Jordi Turull announced he would “provisionally” withdraw his candidacy for Catalan president. After the bids of Puigdemont and Sànchez failed to go ahead, JxCat put Turull forward for the post, but he failed to gather enough votes in parliament to be sworn in in the first vote. The next day, Turull was also taken in custody over his part in the push for independence. He was never able to attend a second vote. In his statement, Turull called the decision to again put Sànchez forward an “act of justice”.