“What is at stake is proper functioning of Portugal’s institutions”
Rui Rocha, leader of Portugal’s Liberal Initiative party has said today that the sacking of infrastructures minister João Galamba – even if it comes – will “solve nothing”, because what is at stake after “a number of scandals” is the “proper functioning of (the country’s) institutions” .
Rocha was speaking to journalists outside yet another health centre where locals get up at dawn in order to stand in line, in the blazing sun with no availability of seating, in the hope that they will be seen by a State health service doctor.
He referred to the “succession of cases” that have hit the headlines since the PS absolute majority government returned to power last year – particularly the latest incident of an apparent punch-up at the infrastructures ministry which saw the intervention of SIS (the Intelligence and Security System) to recover a computer…
“Very, very delicate issues” are at stake, stressed Rocha – echoing feelings of so many political observers over the weekend.
“Therefore, it is not an eventual departure of the minister Joao Galamba that will solve the structural issue that has to do with the very foundations of the democratic regime.
“An intelligence system cannot act in its own way and has to act in certain circumstances, provided for in the law and the Constitution and all of this needs to be ascertained,” he said.
The country is “facing a repeat of scandals” in the Socialist executive. “One comes along, and two more haven’t even finished- and they are not just random affairs and scandals, as the prime minister has said. In the case of the intervention of the SIS, for example, we are talking about a structural question of the foundation of the democratic principle and the democratic state”.
“All the grounds” used by IL to present a motion of no confidence in the government in January – which ended up being rejected – “are still valid”, indeed, since then, ‘governance has become worse’.
“We even consider that we have fallen short of the assessment (made in January), we are facing a much worse breakdown than we imagined of institutions and of the government itself,” said the IL leader.
Asked whether the dissolution of parliament is the answer – the “atomic bomb” that the President of the Republic has referred to but is loathe to use – Rocha replied: “I believe that what is an atomic bomb is what the PS is doing to the country and its government. The atomic bomb is the PS government.”
SIRP, the Council for Oversight of the Portuguese Republic’s Intelligence System, clarified today that on its own initiative it has requested information on the intervention of the Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) in the case of the recovery of the computer (attributed to João Galamba’s former deputy) purportedly containing classified information.
Last night, in interview with RTP3, the prime minister said he had not been informed of SIS’s involvement in the computer recovery, and suggested that no one in the government had given orders to SIS.
“SIS was not called to intervene. There is a theft of a computer that has classified documentation, the minister’s office did what it was supposed to do, sound the alert to authorities and authorities acted accordingly. I was not informed and I did not have to be informed; nobody in the government gave orders to SIS to do this or that, SIS acted according to the alert it received and within the framework of its legal responsibilities”, said the PM, adding that he sees the whole situation as one in which conduct “seems adequate”.
Says Lusa, on Saturday, at a press conference, João Galamba said he reported the theft of the computer to the assistant secretary of state of the prime minister and to the minister of justice, “having been told that he should inform SIS and the PJ ( judicial police).
Galamba’s former deputy Frederico Pinheiro has denied theft of the computer, and said he is more than willing to answer any questions about it.
Source material: LUSA