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Catalan president Quim Torra called an extraordinary meeting of his government on Friday evening after Spain's Central Electoral Commission (JEC) decided to execute his disqualification from holding public office, and at its conclusion he made a statement in which he announced that he had asked the speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, to convoke an "urgent and extraordinary" session of the Catalan house for Saturday. "The plenary of the chamber needs to take a clear stand against this decision of the Central Electoral Commission, which violates the law. I’ve said it many times: only the Parliament can disqualify me from office," he said.

"Until the Parliament of Catalonia says otherwise, I will remain a member of Parliament and the president of Catalonia and continue to perform the duties of my office. I am a member of Parliament and the president of Catalonia," he said.

As soon as his press appearance was over, the speaker of parliament announced that he had spoken with all the leaders of the parliamentary parties to convoke Saturday's session.

The president of Catalonia affirmed that "this is the second attempt that’s been made to remove a legitimate president of Catalonia and to do so from an office in Madrid. This time, they're doing an Article 155 without even going through the Senate" - in reference to the Spanish constitutional article used to suspend Catalonia's self-government in 2017. "Once again, they want to alter – using irregular and completely undemocratic means – what has been decided by the political will of Catalans," he said.

In the face of this situation, he made a call to strengthen the Catalan institutions and warned that only the Parliament that represents Catalans could decide who should become president and who should leave the post.

"I can tell you right now that I will lodge every possible appeal against this authoritarian and completely irregular decision," he said, highlighting the almost even split among the JEC on the decision.

The president also referred during his appearance to the disqualification of Oriol Junqueras from his position as MEP​, which was also decided by the Electoral Commission on Friday, terming this decision as an "extremely serious attack".

Full text of president Torra's statement

Fellow Catalans,

I stand before you today to decry the launching of another coup against Catalan institutions. This time, the Central Electoral Board, an administrative electoral body, has taken on functions that are beyond its purview, interpreting the execution of a court sentence that is not yet final. This is the second attempt that’s been made to remove a legitimate president of Catalonia and to do so from an office in Madrid. This time, they're doing an Article 155 without even going through the Senate.

Once again, they want to alter – using irregular and completely undemocratic means – what has been decided by the political will of Catalans. They want to put presidents into office and take them out at will, putting aside democracy.

I serve the Parliament of Catalonia. Now is the time to strengthen our institutions. Only the chamber that represents the sovereignty of the Catalan people can decide who becomes president and who ceases to hold that office. Therefore, I have requested that the speaker of the Parliament, in accordance with Article 78(2) of the regulations, urgently convene an extraordinary plenary session for tomorrow. The plenary of the chamber needs to take a clear stand against this decision of the Central Electoral Board, which violates the law. I’ve said it many times: only the Parliament can disqualify me from office.

I can tell you right now that I will lodge every possible appeal against this authoritarian and completely irregular decision. I’d like to stress that six members of the Central Electoral Board have announced that they will present dissenting opinions against this decision, which they believe is not in line with the law. We will do whatever it takes to defend the institutions of this nation, wherever we have to – in the Spanish state and in Europe.

Until the Parliament of Catalonia says otherwise, I will remain a member of parliament and the president of Catalonia and continue to perform the duties of my office. I am a member of parliament and the president of Catalonia.

The Central Electoral Board has also decided to disqualify Vice-President Oriol Junqueras from the office of MEP. This – another extremely serious attack – shows that we live in a country that is a democracy only in appearance. Vice-President Junqueras should be free – along with the rest of the political prisoners –  and performing his duties as a representative of the Catalan people in Brussels.

Before I finish, I'd like to say how grateful I am for the expressions of support I've received from citizens, ministers of my government, members of the parties, and President Puigdemont. My commitment to the people of Catalonia is firm. There is no solution for Spain if it continues on the path of harsh repression. Today they want to alter what has been decided by the democratic will of Catalonia. This is also an attack on voters and their rights of representation. And we won't stand for it.

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