Portuguese minister resigns in wake of forest fires

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-18 19:06:11|Editor: Zhou Xin
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LISBON, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Portuguese Minister of Internal Administration, Constanca Urbano de Sousa, announced her resignation on Wednesday, in the wake of Portugal's devastating forest fires.

In her resignation letter, she said: "I believe the conditions for me to remain in office have been exhausted and so I am formally offering my resignation, which must be accepted, not least to preserve my own dignity."

Prime Minister Antonio Costa accepted her resignation and publicly thanked her for her "dedication and commitment in serving the country and fulfilling her role."

Urbano de Sousa had been heavily criticized for her handling of the crisis and for failing to learn the lessons of previous fires.

More than 100 people have died in forest fires in Portugal in the last four months.

Some 500 wild fires flared up across the north and center of the country on Sunday, with 41 people confirmed dead. An earlier conflagration, in the Pedrogao Grande area in June, claimed 64 lives.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace on Tuesday night to express their anger at the way the disasters have unfolded. Many held placards demanding that Urbano de Sousa be dismissed.

In her resignation letter, Urbano de Sousa revealed that she had offered to step down after the Pedrogao Grande tragedy. Costa had asked her to stay on then, but had no hesitation in agreeing to her request this time.

The prime minister and president have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to further discuss the situation.