Newly appointed Portuguese minister resigns after ex-leader stands down over Mafia links

Portugal’s new interior minister has stepped down less than a week after he took up the post following the sudden resignation of its previous head, who was accused of lying to a Supreme Court…

Newly appointed Portuguese minister resigns after ex-leader stands down over Mafia links

Portugal’s new interior minister has stepped down less than a week after he took up the post following the sudden resignation of its previous head, who was accused of lying to a Supreme Court investigator about alleged mafia ties.

The move brings to an end the previous regime of Jose Manuel Mainor, who resigned on May 19 following reports in local media that he had placed aides in a business linked to a gang of “networking mafiosi” in northern Portugal.

Article 57 of the Portuguese constitution empowers the president to call a new election if he or she believes his prime minister to be incapable of governing.

Mainor, 54, denied he had lied to the court but acknowledged he had helped a local bank close a financial deal with an official of the Onyx Belt gang, one of Portugal’s biggest criminal enterprises.

His predecessor’s resignation prompted expressions of concern over possible political instability after Portugal’s inability to form a government after inconclusive elections last month.

The main opposition Socialists, the main beneficiaries of Mainor’s predecessor’s decision to resign last week, had demanded that he step down.

But on Saturday, the country’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said the former judge and father of two, was “perfectly capable of fulfilling his duties” as interior minister, a relatively junior post that has no power to change legislation.

However, he said Mainor had tendered his resignation to Rebelo de Sousa.

“I accept it and wish him the best in his future work,” the president added.

The euro jumped after the news to some of its highest levels of the week.

It also did well on Asian markets in morning trading, trading up 1.9 percent against the dollar to trade at $1.1591.

Portugal’s justice system was rocked in January by a scandal over attempts to whitewash fraud cases involving the Onyx Belt gang and a judge who was later pushed aside.

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