Socialists demand Rajoy resignation over payment scandal

LAST UPDATED: 3 Feb, 2013 @ 22:19
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Socialists demand Rajoy resignation over payment scandal

By James Bryce

SPANISH opposition leaders have called on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign over alleged payments to PP officials using a €22 million slush fund.

Socialist leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Rajoy ‘isn’t fit to govern the country at such a delicate time’, as more details continue to emerge from the scandal.

It comes after the opposition leader called on the prime minister to appear before Congress to explain whether the payments were made and whether they were taxed.

“Hi presence as head of government will only serve to aggravate the current political crisis,” said Rubalcaba.

“We are asking that he step down as prime minister and open the way for another prime minister who can re-establish the trust, security and stability that Spain needs at this time.”

Rajoy called the information ‘false’ and vowed to stay on as prime minister, while PP Secretary General Maria Dolores de Cospedal denied all knowledge of the alleged payments.

The PP also hit back at Rubalcaba, accusing him of ‘taking advantage of the situation’ and provoking ‘street agitation’.

Thousands of protesters held demonstrations in Barcelona, Madrid and Zaragoza over the weekend calling for Rajoy to step down.

The scandal began following the discovery of a slush fund controlled by former party treasurer Luis Barcenas.

Secret ledgers – published in Spanish newspaper El Pais last week – show records of cash payments made to top-ranking PP officials over a 12-year period.

Rajoy’s name appears 35 times, with a total of €322,231 paid out to him during this period, on top of a further €33,207 paid to him for perks including a clothing allowance.

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