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Mar 20, 9:07 AM EDT

Jailed Catalan separatist ready to drop bid to be new leader

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MADRID (AP) -- Catalan separatist Jordi Sanchez's lawyers say the jailed activist is ready to give up his seat in Catalonia's parliament, which would effectively end his bid to become the region's next leader.

The law firm defending Sanchez said the offer was made because of difficulties in carrying out his duties as a lawmaker and being blocked by Spain's top court from attending a parliamentary vote to be elected Catalonia's president.

Separatist parties had turned to Sanchez after dropping their bid to re-elect fugitive Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October.

Sanchez appeared Tuesday before a Supreme Court judge who is investigating him and dozens of others for holding a banned referendum on seceding from Spain and using its results to unsuccessfully declare independence.

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