The former Catalan leader, who is currently in Belgium, has left Spain after authorities in Madrid dismissed him and his administration and set a date for a snap election in Catalonia over the declaration of the autonomous region’s independence.
“I am ready to be a candidate… it’s possible to run a campaign from anywhere,” Puigdemont said to Belgian state television RTBF, adding that he considers himself a legitimate leader of Catalonia. He also said that the snap election will not “be neutral, independent, normal,” if the Catalan leadership is in jail.
The Spanish authorities have set December 21 as a date for a snap election after the Catalan leadership had unilaterally declared independence.
Puigdemont, who had to testify before Spain’s National Court on Thursday as he faces rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges following the Catalan referendum, has fled to Belgium. A Spanish judge is expected to issue an arrest warrant for him and four officials who have also fled to Belgium.
Some nine Catalan officials were put in custody in Spain on Thursday in connection with the ongoing investigation into the referendum events. However, one of them, Santi Vila, was freed on bail on Friday.
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Also on Thursday, thousands of people across Catalonia took to the streets to protest against the detention of the Catalan leaders.
Spain has been in turmoil since the October 1 referendum in Catalonia, in which more than 90 percent of voters backed independence from Spain. Madrid has called the vote illegal.