MADRID - Spain’s government has taken a first step towards preventing the election of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont as head of the Spanish region, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday.


Puigdemont has been living in Brussels to avoid arrest over leading a bid for Catalan independence in October. Catalonia’s newly-elected parliament speaker nominated him on Monday as the sole candidate to be the regional president again.


“Current circumstances do not permit his investiture,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference in Madrid, referring to the fact that there is an arrest warrant against Puigdemont in Spain.


She said the government had asked the council of state to give its opinion on the possibility to appeal to the constitutional court the Catalan parliament speaker’s decision to nominate Puigdemont as the only leadership candidate.


If the council of state’s opinion echoes that of the Madrid government, the appeal will be filed immediately, she said.


The Catalan parliament must hold its first round of vote on electing a new regional leader no later than Jan. 31.