Catalonia MPs elect separatist Quim Torra as new regional leader

His comments came as Quim Torra, a separatist, became the Catalan president when MPs in the regional parliament approved the move by 66 votes to 65. "We will build a Catalan republic", he said after the vote, as lawmakers sang Catalonia's anthem "Els Segadors" ("The Reapers" in English).

The parliament's election came almost five months after local elections in Catalonia.

Torra's candidacy was fully endorsed by Puigdemont, who went out of his way to propose his close ideological ally in an address released on his still-active YouTube video channel.

The election of 55-year-old Torra - most widely known in Catalonia for his work as an editor and writer - paves the way for a new regional government to be formed, ending a political limbo during which three previous candidates put forward by the separatists since the December regional election were blocked by the courts.

He also said a "Republican council" would be created overseas in parallel, presided by Puigdemont, as well as an assembly composed of local officials.

From December 2017, the Catalan Parliament five times already tried to form a government, but all candidates for the post of Prime Minister are either in prison or outside of Spain and can not return to the country for prosecution.

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Catalonia has been without an administration since December despite pro-independence parties winning most seats in a December election called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after Puigdemont's secession attempt.

Mr. Torra failed to secure enough votes in the first round of parliamentary voting on Saturday.

The Spanish PM must also now decide whether or not to withdraw application of article 155 of the country's Constitution, thus returning the region's devolved powers to the assembly.

Quim Torra, the former leader of a pro-independence civil society group, has vowed to continue working toward an independent Catalan republic.

Torra was recently forced to apologise for discriminatory remarks expressed on Catalan nationalist social networks aimed at other Spaniards.

The formation of a new government will automatically lift direct rule imposed by Madrid on October 27 after separatist lawmakers made a short-lived unilateral declaration of independence.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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