Catalan leader accepts challenge of Dec. 21 regional election

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 31.10.2017 15:59
Updated 31.10.2017 16:00
Dismissed Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont attends a press conference at Press club in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 31, 2017. (EPA Photo)
Dismissed Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont attends a press conference at Press club in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 31, 2017. (EPA Photo)

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday said he accepted the snap elections called by Spain's central government in Catalonia and he was not seeking asylum in Belgium at a press conference given in Brussels.

Puigdemont said he was not trying to escape from justice after the state prosecutor recommended charges for rebellion and sedition be brought against him. He did not clarify how long he would stay in Belgium, adding he would return to Catalonia when given "guarantees" of a fair trial by the Spanish government.

The Catalan leader said he would not seek asylum as had widely been speculated, adding he was in Belgium "for safety purposes and freedom."

"I am not here in order to demand asylum. Our rights are probably better guaranteed while we are here," he told reporters in Brussels, without saying how long he would stay.

Puigdemont said he and his team will "continue our work despite the limits imposed on us," adding that he would accept the challenge of regional elections called for Dec. 21 "with all our strength" and that Catalan nationalists would vote.

Spain wants Catalonia "to abandon our political project, and they won't achieve it," he said, urging to avoid violence and stressing that dialogue was a priority.

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