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Portugal foreign minister hands in resignation in second major ministerial move

Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has said he won't accept his foreign minister's surprise resignation. Paulo Portas asked to step down just one day after the finance minister handed in his resignation.

Passos Coelho said Tuesday in a televised speech that he was going to continue heading Portugal's government and he would not accept Portas' resignation.

Portas had announced his departure in a written statement just 30 minutes before replacement Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque was sworn into office. The foreign minister, who leads the government's junior coalition partner, the conservative-nationalist CDS-PP party, said his decision reflected his opposition to Albuquerque's appointment.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's choice of the successor was not "prudent and consensus-based," Portas said in the statement, adding that remaining in the government would be "politically unsustainable."

He said his decision was "irrevocable."

Portas has openly criticized Portugal's tough austerity policy introduced under an EU-International Monetary Fund bailout program, of which Albuquerque is a key proponent.

Former Treasury Secretary, Albuquerque was appointed on Monday following the shock resignation of Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, the main architect of the austerity measures.

ccp/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)