17:24 GMT +322 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Catalan lawmakers on Friday voted in favor of an amendment that would allow the regional president to be elected without his or her presence in the parliament, in a move that could return former leader Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile, to power, according to the parliament's press service.

    "The parliament approved the amendment to the legislation on the presidency to provide an opportunity for holding a session to appoint [the head of government] without their presence," a statement on the parliament's Twitter account read.

    According to the statement, 70 lawmakers from pro-independence Together for Catalonia, Republican Left of Catalonia and Popular Unity Candidacy parties voted in favor of the amendment, while 64 lawmakers from the Citizens, the Socialists' Party of Catalonia and Catalonia in Common–We Can party, voted against.

    In January, a Spanish court ruled that Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October to avoid sedition charges after last year's independence referendum, could only become the regional leader if he was physically present in the parliament and had a judge's permission to attend the swearing-in session.

    READ MORE: 'We Are Determined to Fight' — Lawyer on Catalan Ex-Education Minister Case

    However, in late February, Catalan pro-independence parties announced their plans to establish a parallel government in Brussels that would be headed by Puigdemont, the idea Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy described as "crazy."


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