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Ex-Catalan leader says to stay in Belgium

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says he and four of his ex-cabinet members plan to remain in Belgium “for the moment” after Spain dropped an international warrant for his arrest.

Asked whether he planned to travel in Europe, Puigdemont said Wednesday that he didn’t know whether it would be possible.

“For the moment we will stay here (in Belgium),” Puigdemont said, speaking French during a press conference in Brussels.

“Our desire when we came here was to return home as soon as possible … but will it be possible? … We have to know the answer before going home.”

Puigdemont and his ex-cabinet members traveled to Belgium after his government was fired following a unilateral declaration of independence, considered illegal by Spain’s courts, was passed through the regional parliament.

All five still face warrants for their arrests in Spain for sedition, rebellion and misappropriation of funds in relation to the regional government’s push for secession from Spain.

Puigdemont, the main engineer of a controversial referendum of independence in Catalonia in early October, read an independence declaration on October 27 only to give Madrid the pretext to sack his government and launch a sweeping crackdown on those involved in the secession push.

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