Fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has announced he is temporarily withdrawing his bid to get back his old job as president of the independence-minded northeastern Spanish region.
Puigdemont says in a video message posted from Brussels, where he fled to escape arrest in Spain, that he is standing aside so the Catalan parliament can find another candidate to form a regional government that presses ahead with independence efforts.
Puigdemont is a charismatic leader of the independence movement and is the preferred candidate of most Catalan secessionists to head the regional government.
But the Spanish government says it will not allow anybody facing legal action over secession to become Catalan president. Puigdemont's announcement did little to increase the chances of ending the separatists' standoff with the central government in Madrid.