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Lopes bows out after turbulent four months as PM

Lopes bows out after turbulent four months as PM
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Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes and his centre-right administration have resigned. It follows Friday’s announcement by President Jorge Sampaio that there would bean early general election on February 20.
“I am conscious of the political direction which the previous government took and which we continued,” Lopes said. “However, after the president made public the reasons why he had lost confidence in us we felt that we should not stay on. My administration has made some difficult choices but unfortunately our tenure has been too short for their effects to become fully clear.”

Sampaio said he was dissolving parliament after what he called a “series of episodes” had damaged the government´s credibility, including the bitter resignation of a minister and allegations that the ruling party was interfering with the media. Lopes, a former mayor of Lisbon, took over as premier in August when Jose Manuel Barroso left to become European Commission president. Portugal’s opposition Socialists are ahead in opinion polls.