Spain PM urges Catalonia to opt for "clean candidate"

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Spain PM urges Catalonia to opt for clean
Catalan police officers inspect a car at a check point outside the Catalonian Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Lawmakers in the Catalan parliament are to hold the first investiture debate to elect a new government for the troubled Spanish region. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is urging the Catalan parliament not to press ahead with the candidacy of fugitive leader Carles Puigdemont for regional president and instead to opt for a lawmaker free of legal proceedings.

Speaking Tuesday on Spanish National Television hours before the parliament is scheduled to hold an investiture vote for Puigdemont, Rajoy said the parliament speaker will face legal consequences if he disobeys a Constitutional Court order saying Puigdemont can only be voted on if he is physically present and has previously obtained court permission.

Puigdemont faces arrest if he returns to Spain.

Rajoy said the “most sensible” thing for the parliament speaker would be to propose a “clean candidate” who is willing to obey the law and work for the return of normality in Catalonia.