May 9, 2018 / 11:10 AM / a year ago

REPEAT-Spain moves to block Catalan bid to elect former leader in absentia

(Repeats to wider codes, no change to text)

MADRID, May 9 (Reuters) - Spain moved on Wednesday to block pro-independence politicians in Catalonia from voting in former leader Carles Puigdemont as their regional head as a deadline looms to form a government and avoid fresh elections.

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Spain was appealing a new law that would have allowed the former leader to be elected at a distance while he waits in Berlin for German courts to rule on a Spanish request to extradite him.

The law was approved last week by the Barcelona parliament, which is still dominated by secessionist forces since elections last December which Madrid had hoped would stifle the independence movement.

Catalan lawmakers must select a leader and form a government by May 22 to avoid a new round of elections. (Reporting by Paul Day; Writing by Isla Binnie;)

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