Portugal's Prime Minister Resigns in the Wake of Lithium Deal Corruption Allegations

Portugal's Prime Minister Resigns in the Wake of Lithium Deal Corruption Allegations

Lisbon - Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa tendered his resignation on Tuesday in the midst of an ongoing investigation into potential embezzlement, active and passive corruption, and influence peddling related to lithium and hydrogen deals. Costa firmly maintains his innocence, asserting that he has not engaged in any unlawful activities.

During a televised address, the socialist leader stated, "In these circumstances, of course, I have submitted my resignation to His Excellency, the President of the Republic." Expressing his surprise at the sudden emergence of a criminal case against him, Costa expressed his full willingness to cooperate with any legal inquiry while vigorously refuting the allegations. He emphasized his departure with a clear conscience and addressed the people, saying, "I want to say, and I look into the eyes of the Portuguese, that the practice of any illegal or even reprehensible act does not weigh on my conscience." However, he believed that his resignation was necessary as he felt it was incompatible with the dignity of the Prime Minister's role to have any suspicions looming.

Following his resignation, the course of action will be determined by the conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who possesses the authority to dissolve the Assembly of the Republic and call for elections if he deems it necessary. Costa refrained from influencing or publicly disclosing the President's decision, and he neither confirmed nor denied his candidacy in a potential election.

Up to this point, the President has scheduled meetings with political parties for Wednesday and a Council of State session for Thursday. The Public Ministry released a statement on Tuesday, announcing an investigation into Costa and several members of his cabinet for alleged crimes of prevarication, active and passive corruption, and influence peddling in connection with lithium and hydrogen deals.

The Public Prosecutor's Office executed searches in locations associated with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and highlighted that multiple suspects had implicated Costa in the case for the purpose of expediting procedures. The investigation, which encompassed over 40 locations, primarily revolves around lithium mining concessions in the Romano and Barroso mines in northern Portugal, as well as projects related to hydrogen energy production and data center construction in Sines.

Warrants for arrest were issued for the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, the Mayor of Sines, and two administrators of the "Start Campus" company, along with a lawyer, who are all due to be questioned by the judiciary. The Minister of Infrastructure, João Galamba, and the President of the Board of Directors of the Portuguese Environment Agency were also formally declared as suspects.

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