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Speaker urges pro-independence parties to avoid new ‘shameful spectacles’

Government leaders meet after row in parliament over former president’s suspension

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20 July 2018 12:03 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent has urged pro-independence parties to avoid any further “shameful spectacles,” a reference to last Wednesday’s unprecedented row between the two ruling parties in Catalonia over the suspension of former president Carles Puigdemont as an MP.

Spain’s Supreme Court ordered Puigdemont and five other politicians accused of rebellion to leave their seats in parliament until they face trial for organizing a referendum and declaring independence last October despite Spain’s opposition.

Pro-independence Esquerra (ERC), the party of speaker Torrent, argued for a temporary suspension of all six lawmakers involved. Its partner in government, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), accepted, as long as it did not include Puigdemont, the party leader.

  • “We should commit ourselves to talk more and reach agreements to prevent this from happening again”

    Roger Torrent · Catalan parliament speaker

JxCat argued that the suspension should not apply to Puigdemont because he is the only suspended MP who is not in jail, but seeking refuge in Germany. The court of Schleswig-Holstein rejected to extradite Puigdemont to Spain for rebellion, a decision that prompted the Supreme Court to withdraw the European Arrest Warrant against him.

The disagreement over how to handle Puigdemont’s suspension led the speaker to cancel Wednesday’s plenary session in Parliament. His predecessor, Carme Forcadell, is in pre-trial jail for allowing votes on independence despite Spanish courts warnings.

JxCat accused the speaker of “breaking an agreement" between the two ruling parties, while ERC came out in defense of Torrent and accused JxCat of lying.

“We should all do self-criticism,” said Torrent. “We should commit ourselves to talk more and reach agreements to prevent this from happening again.”

The two highest-ranking officials of both parties, Catalan president Quim Torra and vice president Pere Aragonès, met on Thursday to discuss how to prevent further confrontations—at least, in public.

With the parliament due to meet again after the summer holiday, it is not clear yet how pro-independence parties will apply the suspension of Puigdemont and other MPs.

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