Former Catalan leader quits as pro-independence party chief

Former Catalan president Artur Mas is resigning as head of his regional pro-independence party, saying he wants to clear the way for a new generation of leaders pushing for secession from Spain.

Pro-independence parties including Mas' PdeCat won the most seats — 70 out of 135 — in the Catalan parliamentary election in December. Mas said Tuesday that result was "very good" and brought a new phase in the secession drive.

Mas, 61, told a news conference there's a need to "clear the way for new people to lead a project for the future" in Catalonia.

Mas was Catalan president between 2010 and 2016 before stepping aside, handpicking Carles Puigdemont as his successor.

Puigdemont became the independence movement's leader but is currently a fugitive in Belgium.