Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa Resigns Amid Corruption Investigation

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa Resigns Amid Corruption Investigation

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced his resignation on Tuesday following his involvement in a corruption investigation related to the awarding of energy-related contracts. The probe, which includes allegations of misuse of funds, active and passive corruption by political figures, and influence peddling, is being conducted by public prosecutors.

Costa will also face an independent investigation for allegedly expediting the licensing process for lithium exploration and hydrogen production. In a press conference, Costa stated, “The duties of prime minister are not compatible with any suspicion of my integrity,” and subsequently submitted his resignation to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

President Rebelo de Sousa accepted Costa’s resignation and called for a meeting of parliamentary parties to organize an early election. Before dissolving parliament and calling for early elections, the president must convene the Council of State, which includes senior politicians, former presidents, and notable figures. The president will address the nation after the Council of State meeting.

Costa, a member of Portugal’s Socialist Party, has been prime minister since late 2015 and was re-elected in January 2022. Socialist Party president Carlos Cesar expressed readiness for all scenarios, including early elections or a change in government leadership.

Costa expressed surprise at the investigation’s initiation and denied any illegal activities. Earlier on Tuesday, media reports indicated that investigators had searched several ministries, as well as Costa’s offices and official residence. Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba was indicted, and an arrest warrant was issued for Costa’s chief of staff.

The investigation encompasses lithium mining concessions, a hydrogen production project, and a data center in Sines. Arrest warrants were also issued for the mayor of Sines, two executives at Start Campus, and the president of the executive board of the Portuguese Agency for the Protection of the Environment (APA). The APA had approved a lithium mining project in May and another in September, both of which faced opposition from environmental groups and parts of the local population.

Costa’s popularity has declined recently due to various scandals, including one involving the national airline TAP. The scandal, known as TAPgate, led to the resignation of several ministers and secretaries of state. The controversy arose after it was revealed that a TAP director received a 500,000-euro severance package. Alexandra Reis, the former TAP director, subsequently held positions at the state-run air traffic control company NAV and later became a junior minister at the treasury.


Author: CrimeDoor

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