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Catalan secessionist parties propose 3rd candidate for regional president

Secessionist parties in Catalonia will present on March 22 their third candidate, Jordi Turull, to become the next regional president, Roger Torrent, speaker of the Catalan parliament, said March 21.

Turull is a member of the previous regional administration and was briefly held in custody on charges of rebellion and sedition for his participation in Catalonia's independence push in October. He was released on bail after accepting the central government's control over the region but still faces trial.

The Catalan parliament made a unilateral declaration of independence, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to impose direct rule on the region and to order regional leaders be taken into custody. Rajoy then called for a December 2017 regional election, where separatist parties won the majority.

Turull is free to attend parliamentary sessions and to be voted in. But Madrid said it would stop any candidate who took part in the secessionist drive, said Reuters.

"I would recommend them to look forward and pick a clean candidate, who abides by the law," Rajoy reportedly told Spanish lawmakers on March 21.

Former regional head Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels, and grass-roots leader Jordi Sanchez, who is in jail for his role in the secessionist push, have both withdrawn their bids because they could not attend a swearing-in session.

Turull and other secessionist leaders are due to appear before the Supreme Court on March 23 for a new phase in the investigation leading to a trial, Reuters reported.