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Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa resigned Tuesday, following a police raid on his official residence as part of an inquiry into corruption allegations involving government energy deals that has also led to the arrest of other members of his administration, the BBC reported.
Prosecutors are examining concessions made by the Socialist government involving lithium mining exploration schemes and a hydrogen production project, which were funded by the European Union.
Investigators carried out 43 raids on government buildings and private homes, said the Financial Times, resulting in an arrest warrant for Vítor Escária, the prime minister’s chief of staff. Prosecutors also charged Infrastructure Minister Joao Calamba in the probe.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said in a televised address to the country that he was surprised by the corruption probe, denied the charges, and added that he would cooperate with the judiciary. He resigned, he said, because it would be impossible to do the job properly while the inquiry was underway.
The probe is the latest in a series of scandals impacting the Socialist government since it won an absolute majority in last year’s general election, Politico noted. Costa, who has led the country for eight years, said he would not run for prime minister again.
Now, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will talk with party leaders, likely Wednesday, before deciding whether to either appoint a new prime minister or call a snap general election – the second in two years.
Meanwhile, the opposition has demanded that the entire executive branch step down.