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Portugal fires: Minister resigns as government faces challenge

11:05, Thursday, 19 October, 2017
Portugal fires: Minister resigns as government faces challenge

Portugal's interior minister has resigned after dozens of people died in a massive outbreak of forest fires. In her resignation letter, Constança Urbano de Sousa said she was leaving to "preserve her personal dignity".
     The deadly wildfires killed at least 41 people and hundreds more were injured - the second such tragedy this year. Another four died in northern Spain.
     Portugal's president has also called on parliament to consider if the current government should continue in office. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the government should have a strong mandate in order to enforce fire fighting and forest management reforms to avoid future tragedies.
     His presidency is largely ceremonial, but he does have the power to dissolve parliament.
     The opposition People's Party has already tabled a motion of no confidence over the handling of the emergency. Constança Urbano de Sousa's former ministry is responsible for firefighters and the country's civil protection agency. Both have faced public criticism over their handling of the fires.
     Ms de Sousa had also faced calls for her resignation following a massive blaze in June killed more than 60 people.

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