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Spain warns Catalunya's new president to forget independence
SPAIN'S government and opposition has warned Catalunya that it will continue to be extra-vigilant and will have no compunction about applying Article 155 of the national Constitution again if they consider the region's new president to be 'breaking the law'.
Quim Torra (pictured), leader of the Catalunya culture and social rights organisation Òmnium Cultural – whose latest member is US-born Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen – and MP for the party Junts per Catalunya ('Together for Catalunya', or JxCat) has now been sworn in as regional president.
Spain's leader Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing PP party, and his direct rival Pedro Sánchez of the socialists, or PSOE, are already on their guard, as Torra is even more staunchly pro-independence than his predecessor, deposed president of Catalunya Carles Puigdemont, who is currently on bail in Germany after having fled to Belgium in October to avoid arrest.
North-western regional daily La Voz de Galicia has retrieved columns written by Torra in the past which had some choice insults for born-and-bred Catalunya natives who speak Spanish as their first language.
And his swearing-in speech focused on creating an 'independent republic'.
Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution was applied following the disputed independence referendum on October 1, stripping Catalunya of its self-governing powers, but will automatically be lifted once Torra officially takes up office and the region has a new government.
This said, the PSOE's Pedro Sánchez has warned Torra that it is much easier to apply Article 155 a second time than the first, as only a summary hearing would be needed rather than a full court investigation into the circumstances behind the government's request to invoke it.
Since national president Mariano Rajoy and his cabinet forced a regional election on December 21, Catalunya has not had a government for 199 days.
The pro-independence parties, collectively, won a majority and Carles Puigdemont was the only presidential candidate, but he could not be sworn in as this required his presence in Catalunya's Parliamentary headquarters – and a national arrest warrant meant he could not return to Spain without being detained immediately upon arrival.
Puigdemont proposed his number two, Jordi Sànchez, as candidate, but as Sànchez is in jail for his role in the referendum, this proved unworkable.
Quim Torra is the second name proposed by Puigdemont and the third candidate in six months – and as he has no legal action hanging over him in respect of the referendum, he was free to appear in Parliament for his presidential investiture.
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