Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa resigned on Tuesday amid a police investigation into possible nepotism and corruption.
Costa announced his decision in a televised statement after his meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. He was called upon to explain the complexities of his government.
Earlier on Tuesday, police searched Costa’s official residence, the Sao Bento Palace. The office of his chief of staff and the ministries of environment and infrastructure were also searched.
This issue has been bothering Portugal for some time. An investigation into possible illegal deals related to lithium mining and hydrogen production in Portugal was launched at the end of 2019.
Portugal has the largest lithium reserves in Europe. Lithium is a substance used, among other things, in electric car batteries. A lot of money goes into extracting it, which is why companies at home and abroad are keen to participate.
Police arrested at least five in the investigation on Tuesday. The matter concerns the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, two directors of the companies concerned, a businessman, and a mayor. Infrastructure Minister João Galamba has also been charged.
Costa will remain prime minister for the time being
According to a statement issued by the Public Prosecution, a separate investigation is underway into Costa himself, who is said to have personally intervened to speed up the conclusion of contracts. The Prime Minister says he wants to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Costa says he is surprised by these accusations and that his conscience is clear. In any case, he says he will not return as prime minister. “The duties of Prime Minister cannot be reconciled with any doubt as to my integrity.”
Costa, 62, has headed Portugal’s government since 2015. He has held an absolute majority with the Socialist Party since January 2022. The next elections are scheduled for 2026. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa must now decide whether or not to advance the election date. If the Socialists were to be allowed to form a new government themselves. Costa will remain seated until a decision is made.
Ontvang meldingen bij nieuws over Portugal
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