Madrid calls on Puigdemont to participate in Catalan elections

Sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont walks with his wife Marcela Topor during a walkabout through the center the day after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Girona, Spain, October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government said on Saturday it would welcome the participation of sacked Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in regional elections to be held in December.

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told Reuters TV in an interview that if Puigdemont wanted to continue in politics, “which is his right, I think he should prepare for next elections”.

Puigdemont had earlier on Saturday called for a democratic opposition to Madrid’s takeover of the region following its declaration of independence.

“I’m quite sure that if Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise this democratic opposition”.

After dissolving the regional parliament and sacking the regional government on Friday, Spain’s Prime Minister Rajoy said a new regional election would be held in Catalonia on Dec. 21.

Mendez de Vigo also said he was confident that the regional Catalan police would obey the law after the government had sacked regional officers.

He said that if Puigdemont refused to abandon his office, the government would react with “intelligence and with common sense”.

Asked what would happen if Puigdemont had to face prosecution in the courts, Mendez replied that in Spain judicial and political powers were separate and that “no one is above the law.” He did not commit himself further.

Reporting by Anna Valderrama; writing by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Angus MacSwan