Catalonia Elects New Leader Tasked With Breakaway From Spain

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Catalonia Elects New Leader Tasked With Breakaway From Spain

New elected President of the Catalan Government Carles Puigdemont is congratulated by former President Artur Mas. (AFP Photo)

Barcelona, Spain:  The majority secessionist lawmakers in Catalonia's parliament voted in a new leader Sunday, tasking him with overseeing the wealthy region's breakaway from Spain in a last-minute show of unity after months of bitter infighting.

Carles Puigdemont was elected regional president with 70 votes for, 63 against and two abstentions, giving Catalonia's high-profile independence movement a fresh lease of life and drawing a sharp rebuke from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who vowed to fight for his country's unity.

"The government won't allow a single act that could harm the unity and sovereignty of Spain," Rajoy warned in a live, televised appearance in Madrid.

After months of acrimony, Catalonia's pro-independence faction that won regional parliamentary elections in September finally came to an agreement this weekend over who should lead the new local government.

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