Separatist politician becomes new leader of Catalonia

Pro-secession conservative Carles Puigdemont appointed as new Catalan regional president

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Incoming Catalan President Carles Puigdemont delivers a speech at the Catalonia Parliament in Barcelona, Spain, January 10, 2016.

Pro-independence politician Carles Puigdemont has been confirmed as the new regional president of Spain's powerful northeastern region of Catalonia, keeping alive the local parliament's disputed drive to secede from Spain.

Puigdemont's appointment, signed by King Felipe VI and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, was published Tuesday in the Official State Gazette.

Puigdemont was voted in by pro-independence deputies in the Catalan parliament on Sunday after then-acting president Artur Mas failed to round up enough support.

A low-profile member of the ruling conservative Convergence party, Puigdemont pledges to continue Mas' initiative to lead the region to independence by 2017.

His appointment comes as Spanish political parties opposed to independence struggle to make deals to form a new national government following an inconclusive Dec. 20 general election.