A NEW political body to further the cause of Catalan independence from abroad is to be launched in Catalonia next week.

The Council of the Republic, which was announced earlier this year by exiled president Carles Puigdemont, will officially come into being next Tuesday, three days after the first anniversary of the declaration of independence in Barcelona.

Puigdemont will chair the council, which will be run by his former health minister Toni Comin, who is also living in exile.

Details emerged yesterday after Puigdemont called his pro-independence allies – including Quim Torra, his successor as president and Sergi Sabria, leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) in the Catalan parliament – to a meeting at a hotel in the Belgian town of Waterloo, where he now lives.

Comin said the establishment of the new body was one of the main parts of their continuing campaign to establish an independent Catalonia.

“The Council of the Republic is one of the essential instruments to deploy the republic, since there would be no balance if the legislature walked only on the institutions of the Generalitat [parliament] and social mobilisation,” he said.

ERC spokesperson, Marta Vilalta, said: “We are there, we have been, and we will always be in those negotiation and dialogue tables that allow us to share strategies and take steps to move towards the materialisation of the republic.”

Representatives of grassroots groups the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural were also in attendance, but no-one from the pro-independence, far-left Public Unity Candidacy (CUP) attended.

Anti-capitalist MP Carles Riera said the new council detracted from the main issue.

“The Council for the Republic on the outside is a symbolic element, what route can this have?” he said.

“Instead, if you break with the state and start a process of self-determination, then it may be useful to take actions abroad.

“But ... at this time we cannot get involved because we forget about the big issue.”