Puigdemont chose to stay safe and not set-off a political imbalance in Spain by opting not to call regional elections.

This comes amid plans by the Spanish government in Madrid to strip him of his powers.

Catalonia's parliament is debating the crisis over the regional government's push for independence from Spain.

The Senate is expected to approve the move on Friday. Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows Madrid to impose direct rule in the region.

Large crowds gathered outside the regional government building in Barcelona, ahead of Mr Puigdemont's much-anticipated statement.

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