Fugitive Catalan leader asks Spain to restore his government

MADRID — Catalonia’s fugitive former president has called for Spanish authorities to open negotiations regarding the restitution of what he calls his “legitimate government.”

Carles Puigdemont said via social media channels from Brussels on Saturday that Spain should “recognize the election results of Dec. 21 and start negotiating politically with the legitimate government of Catalonia.”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed Puigdemont and his cabinet after Catalonia’s regional parliament voted in favor of a declaration of independence from the rest of the country in October.

But pro-secession parties, including one led by Puigdemont, won the most seats in elections last week.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid a judicial investigation into suspicions of rebellion by him and his government. He did not say Saturday if he plans to return to Spain, where an arrest warrants awaits him.

Rajoy said on Friday that he plans to convene Catalonia’s newly elected parliament on Jan. 17.

In-house rules of Catalonia’s parliament require that a candidate to form a government be present.

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