Portugal Official Quits; 10th in a Year

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- The Portuguese government's chief official in charge of transportation, including the fate of the troubled national airline and a long-postponed plan for high-speed train lines, has resigned.

Infrastructure and Housing Minister Pedro Nuno Santos quit late Wednesday amid an outcry over a 500,000-euro ($532,000) compensation payment made to a board member of state-owned flag carrier TAP Air Portugal while many other people face hardship due to a cost-of-living crisis.

The junior minister for infrastructure also quit, making a total of 10 senior government officials who have left their jobs since the center-left Socialist Party won a general election in a landslide last January. The departures have brought accusations from opposition parties that the administration is unsteady.

The TAP Air Portugal board member left the company earlier this year, half-way through her four-year term, after disagreements with the airline's CEO. She was deemed to be entitled to the payout for the loss of projected earnings.

Santos, a minister in Socialist governments for the past seven years, said he wasn't directly involved in the matter but was leaving his post due to the outcry.

"Given the public perception and the general sentiment created by this case, (the minister) feels that, in this context, he should accept political responsibility and has tendered his resignation," a statement issued after midnight said.