Spain has taken steps to prevent the election of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont who's living in Brussels to avoid arrest over leading a bid for Catalan independence in October.

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont addresses the media after a meeting with Roger Torrent, speaker of Catalan Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2018
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont addresses the media after a meeting with Roger Torrent, speaker of Catalan Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2018 (Reuters)

Spain's government has taken its first step towards preventing the election of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont as head of Catalonia, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

Puigdemont has been living in Brussels to avoid arrest over leading a bid for Catalan independence in October. 

Catalonia's newly-elected parliament speaker nominated him on Monday as the sole candidate to be the regional president again.

"Current circumstances do not permit his investiture," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference in Madrid, referring to the fact that there was an arrest warrant against Puigdemont in Spain.

She said the government had asked the council of state to give its opinion on the possibility of appealing to the constitutional court the Catalan parliament speaker's decision to nominate Puigdemont as the only leadership candidate.

If the council of state's opinion echoed that of the Madrid government, the appeal would be filed immediately, she said.

The Catalan parliament must hold its first round of vote on electing a new regional leader no later than January 31.

Source: Reuters