Monday, July 22, 2024

Estonian Prime Minister resigns following corruption scandal in his party | News Europe

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Ratas, on the left, had been prime minister since 2016, leading a coalition that was forced to resign following his resignation.

The Estonian prime minister resigned following a corruption scandal within his Center Party that led to the resignation of key party officials overnight, and talks began Wednesday between political parties over the formation of a new ruling coalition.

This decision automatically results in the resignation of Estonia’s tripartite coalition government, but does not automatically mean a new election.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on his Facebook page on Wednesday morning that he would resign due to “the suspicion expressed by the prosecution…. doesn’t mean someone is definitely to blame, but it will inevitably cast a serious shadow on everyone involved.

“In such a situation, it seems normal that by resigning myself, I give the opportunity to illuminate all the facts and clarify,” Ratas wrote on Facebook.

Ratas said he personally did nothing wrong.

“Despite my political responsibility, I can say with all my heart that as Prime Minister I did not take any malicious or deliberately wrong decisions,” he wrote on Facebook.

After Ratas’ announcement, the parties immediately began talks to form a new government. Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said she would propose that the main opposition party, the center-right Reform Party, form its President Kaja Kallas in the new government.

Ratas has led a majority coalition of his center-left party, the nationalist EKRE party and the conservative homeland party since April 2019. He has been prime minister of the Baltic country of 1.3 million since November 2016.

Estonian security police investigated the offices of the state-owned credit agency KredEx on Tuesday for suspicion of corruption in a € 39m ($ 48m) loan to the Porto Franco housing complex in the port district from the capital, Tallinn.

The prosecution separately declared that it suspected the Center Party and five people of criminal involvement in the Porto Franco real estate case.

Among them, party secretary Mihhail Korb of the Center Party and real estate businessman Hillar Teder. Korb announced his resignation on Tuesday evening.

“As head of government, I … did not have the feeling in the Porto Franco case that a minister or a party tried to influence decisions taken by the government in an illegal manner,” said Ratas on his Facebook page.


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