Exiled former president of Catalonia renounces bid to lead region

'We won't surrender, we won't give up,' Puigdemont (pictured) said, adding he would work to bring international attention on the independence cause

'We won't surrender, we won't give up,' Puigdemont (pictured) said, adding he would work to bring international attention on the independence cause

Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont said today he has abandoned his bid to return as regional president.

He made the statement in an attempt to unblock a political impasse as the region remains without a fully functioning government.

'I will not put myself forward as candidate to be appointed regional president,' Puigdemont, who is in self-exile in Belgium and wanted in Spain for his role in the failed secession bid, said in a video posted on social media.

In his filmed speech, Puigdemont said he was renouncing his bid to lead Catalonia again so that the region currently under direct Madrid rule could get a new government.

'We won't surrender, we won't give up,' he said, adding he would work to bring international attention on the independence cause.

'I know that the path we have ahead is long and fraught with difficulties.'  

The 55-year-old former journalist called for a new round of talks to take place 'as soon as possible' to choose a new candidate, and put forward Jordi Sanchez, the head of the ANC, a hugely influential pro-independence citizens' group.

Sanchez, however, has been in prison for more than four months, charged with sedition over his role in the secession attempt which culminated on October 27 when separatist lawmakers declared independence.

Catalonia has been ruled directly from Madrid for the last four months since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invoked constitutional powers to take over the region after it declared independence in October. Pictured: Catalans celebrating after the declaration 

Catalonia has been ruled directly from Madrid for the last four months since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invoked

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