Published: Thu, January 14, 2021

Estonian prime minister quits over corruption probe

Estonian prime minister quits over corruption probe

That coalition then gave the three parties a majority in parliament.

"Today, I made a decision to resign as prime minister", Ratas, who is the chairman of the party, said in a Facebook post following an hours-long party board meeting.

The next government is unlikely to include the far-right EKRE party, whose leaders denounced the USA election result as rigged and called President-elect Joe Biden "corrupt".

Earlier, the Estonian Public Prosecutor's Office announced it suspected the Center Party and five individuals were allegedly involved in "possible corruption" in relation to a property development project in Tallinn, local media reported.

Elections are unlikely and President Kersti Kaljulaid said she would ask the leader of the opposition liberal Reform Party, Kaja Kallas, to form a government.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas on Wednesday submitted his resignation to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas has resigned, despite proclaiming his innocence, after his Centre Party came under investigation for corruption.

Ratas said he hoped his resignation would help "shed light on all the circumstances and reach clarity" but insisted that he had not made "any malicious or knowingly wrong decisions".

As the largest political party in Tallinn, the Center Party controls the office of mayor and has final say over how to develop public infrastructure projects such as roads and transport in the capital. The probe focuses on property company Porto Franco.

The resignation may scupper plans for a controversial referendum on same-sex marriage that the coalition had been planning to hold this spring.

Toomla said a grand coalition between Reform, Centre, Isamaa and the Social Democrats was "the most sensible option in the current complicated situation".

They have favored austerity to reduce spending, giving the country one of the eurozone's lowest debt-to-GDP ratios.

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