PRESSURE continued to mount on Spain yesterday ahead of the inauguration of the Catalan president, which is expected to take place on Tuesday.

Roger Torrent, the new speaker of the Catalan parliament, met deposed president Carles Puigdemont in exile in Brussels, and pledged that he would “defend the political rights of all members”.

The venue for their meeting had to be hastily rearranged to the offices of the HQ of the European Free Alliance after the Spanish government ordered the closure of the Catalan delegation to the EU’s office in the Belgian capital. Torrent said later: “I will defend the political rights of all members, including those in exile and those who are in custody, those who cannot at present exercise their rights.

“The president Carles Puigdemont is the candidate to be invested because the majority of representatives of the chamber have so decided. We need to find political solutions to enforce democratic mandates.”

He said the results of the December 21 election must be respected and Puigdemont invested, but he said the priority was to put an end to Article 155 – the emergency powers that imposed direct rule, enforced by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

“I have transmitted to the president that we need a government to work from the first minute to recover the institutions,” he said. “Catalonia needs a government that governs and ends the paralysis caused by 155.”

Torrent said Puigdemont had the same right to be invested as any other MP and added: “The will is to face the investiture with total democratic normality. What is best for the country and I will try to provoke is that there is a government as soon as possible, effective, that can work from minute one and so we recover the institutions.”

With less than a week before the investiture, Puigdemont is playing his cards close to his chest. Even the more garrulous sources among his inner circle are deflecting any inquiries about whether he will try to be invested remotely or will return to Catalonia to take part in person.

“We talked about investiture and he has not ruled out being there,” said Torrent.

Puigdemont added: “What would be ideal is a face-to-face investiture. There should be conditions for it to occur, but there are other ways. We do not rule out any.”

Four other MPs who are exiled in Belgium also attended the meeting – Toni Comín and Meritxell Serret from the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), along with Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig, from Together for Catalonia (JxCat).

The gathering could signal the start of yet another legal clash between the Catalan and Spanish governments, as torrent said he had ordered parliament’s legal services team to study Spain’s ban on using the official premises.

“It is very severe that facing a sincere message of dialogue and to speak with Rajoy, we not only receive a ‘no’, but also we are not allowed to meet Puigdemont and his ministers,” said Torrent.

Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, said it was “absolutely logical” that they prevented the meeting taking place in governmental offices because Torrent was trying to meet with “fugitives”. He said: “The Catalan delegation in Brussels is there to develop tasks related to the Catalan government, therefore a meeting with a person who has escaped from justice is not possible there.”

Yesterday was also a busy day in Catalonia, where officers from the Guardia Civil raided the offices of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural and the Telecommunications and Information Technology Centre (CTTI) – looking for correspondence connected to last October’s independence referendum.

Videos also emerged of officers searching sewers in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella, home to the Catalan parliament, presumably to establish if Puigdemont could find a less pleasant way of accessing the building. As security was stepped up along the Catalan border and at ports and airports, the Civil Guard visited an aerodrome near Barcelona.

Eight officers arrived at the airfield – which is more popular with sky-divers than air passengers – on Sunday, but details only became known yesterday. Xavi Serra, director of SkyDiveBCN Saltamos centre, said they had asked about the track length and characteristics of the airfield, but did not mention Puigdemont.

However, he said it was not usual for such a large group of officers visit the aerodrome. Serra said: “Even though officers visit us regularly, it is true that lately the frequency of the visits has risen and it is not usual that they come with a van.”