By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa has announced his resignation following his corruption-related probe, arising from the award of energy contracts.
“The duties of prime minister are not compatible with any suspicion of my integrity,” Costa told a press conference after briefly speaking with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa earlier on Tuesday.
“In these circumstances, I have presented my resignation to the president of the Republic,” he added.
Portuguese media had on Tuesday reported that investigators have conducted a search in several ministries as well as Costa’s offices.
Costa, from Portugal’s Socialist Party, has been prime minister since late 2015 and was relected in January 2022.
His popularity has recently declined after a series of scandals linked to the national airline TAP.
Public prosecutors later said they had indicted Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba and issued an arrest warrant for Costa’s chief of staff.
According to a statement from public prosecutors, the investigation covers alleged “misuse of funds, active and passive corruption by political figures, and influence peddling.”
A separate probe is looking into Costa, who is alleged to have intervened personally to speed up the contracts, the statement said.
The investigation covers lithium mining concessions in the north of the country, as well as a hydrogen production project and data centre to be built by the company Start Campus in Sines, a town about 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Lisbon.
Citing flight risk and the possibility that illegal activity could continue, arrest warrants were also issued for the mayor of Sines and two executives of the firm, Start Campus.
Portugal has the largest lithium reserves in Europe and is the continent’s leading producer, but its current output goes entirely to the ceramic and glass-making industries.