Catalan lawmakers meet to vote on president promising independence from Spain by 2017

Regional lawmakers in Catalonia are debating whether to re-elect acting regional President Artur Mas, leader of a secessionist alliance promising to break away from Spain and form a new Mediterranean nation by mid-2017.

Mas' candidacy was to be put to a second vote Thursday after he lost a first round Tuesday.

His "Together for Yes" alliance and the far-left CUP used their 72 seats in the 135-deputy chamber Monday to approve a resolution announcing a road map to independence.

But the CUP, which holds 10 seats, says it won't back Mas for president, indicating negotiations for a new government could be prolonged.

Spain's Constitutional Court on Wednesday ordered the secession resolution temporarily suspended and warned Mas and his allies they could face criminal charges if they defy the ruling.