Rui Rio steps down from PSD leadership this weekend. Image: Estela

Outgoing PSD leader accuses PM of cowardice

Rui Rio cedes role as leader of Portugal’s main opposition party this weekend

Outgoing PSD leader Rui Rio – finally stepping down and handing over to his successor Luís Montenegro at a PSD congress this weekend in Porto – has accused prime minister António Costa of “a notorious lack of courage” over the whole airport dispatch ‘fiasco’.

In what will be one of his final interventions as PSD leader he left no doubt as to what he believes the PM should have done, which is sack Pedro Nuno Santos, the minister who went behind his back.

News sources this morning however have explained the situation was slightly more complex: Mr Nuno Santos was acting with the full knowledge and agreement of finance minister Fernando Medina and Minister of the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva.

As such, if Mr Costa had opted to sack him, he would have been duty bound to sack two other ministers who are meant to be very much his right and left hands within the executive.

“Put in these terms, António Costa would have been facing a crisis of major dimension in his government”, explains tabloid Correio da Manhã.

The paper suggests the PM opted to follow the principle that one should keep one’s friends close, but one’s enemies closer still.

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