By: Chris Graeme
A SERIOUS rift has opened up in the Lisbon Social Democrats Party (PSD) following the Lisbon Câmara President’s refusal to resign last week.
PSD leader Marques Mendes asked Carmona Rodrigues to step down after appearing on national television to say that the political conditions for the Câmara to continue in its present form no longer existed and that PSD Câmara members refusing to quit would lose political confidence.
Carmona Rodrigues launched a bitter and vitriolic attack against his opponents on both sides of the political spectrum after enduring a six hour grilling by the Departamento de Investigação e Acção Penal, a specially appointed judicial inspection body investigating the Bragaparques corruption scandal which has crippled the municipal council for months. The Mayor has now been cited as a defendant in the case.
Appearing with key Lisbon Câmara executives on Thursday evening before the media and faithful supporters, the Mayor said that he wasn’t about “to abandon ship” neither was he prepared “to be thrown overboard”.
The PSD independent, who led an unstable coalition of Câmara members from both the CDU-PP and PSD since his election as President two years ago, was expected to either announce his resignation precipitating early unanticipated elections within 60 days or suspend his mandate awaiting the findings of the investigative body into the Bragaparques case.
Instead, Carmona Rodrigues ignored PSD leader Marques Mendes’ request that he resign, making it clear he would only do so if he lost the support of key Lisbon Câmara members.
The President said that there were sectors of the PSD that had “not helped” to jump to his defence over the “attacks and lies” thrown at him. On the contrary, the PSD had deliberately undermined him by keeping an “insufferable silence”.
Now the only way that the President of Lisbon Câmara can be forced to go is if a sufficient number of Câmara executive members resign which would automatically make his position unsustainable. “If the majority of Câmara members don’t want to stay, I accept their decision and there’s nothing more I can do,” he said on Thursday.
However, by Saturday, the President’s position looked even less certain after six PSD councillors, including the vice president Marina Ferreira, publicly announced they would resign their seats as requested by PSD leader Marques Mendes.
Carmona Rodrigues admitted on Friday that he would resign his mandate only if there was cross party agreement on the Câmara.
It still remains to be seen if an agreement will imply the resignation of all Câmara members including the opposition.
Over the weekend the beleaguered President said that he was “always available to continue to serve Lisbon citizens”.
Câmara member José Sá Fernandes and all Bloco de Esquerda members said on Friday they would resign to allow fresh elections. “I had no idea that Carmona was so attached to power for power’s sake,” he said.
PCP (Communist) member Ruben Carvalho said his party members would only resign if cross party consensus was reached to do so.
The Lisbon district leader of the CDS-PP, António Carlos Monteiro, insisted there needed to be further clarification about the PSD intentions on the Câmara, while the Lisbon PS President Miguel Coelho said the decision was in the hands of the PS and PSD members on the Câmara and the PSD party.
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