The Prime Minister of Estonia, Juri Ratas has resigned his position over a corruption scandal involving a key official of his Center Party suspected of accepting a private donation for the party in exchange for a political favour on a real estate deal, prompting new talks on forming a new ruling coalition.
According to local reports, the resignation of Ratas who is also the Center Party leader automatically triggererd the resignation of Estonia’s three-party coalition government but does not automatically mean a new election.
In a post on his Facebook page, Ratas announced that he would step down as “the suspicion expressed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office …. does not mean that someone is definitely guilty but they will inevitably cast a serious shadow over all those involved.”
“In such a situation, it seems only right that, by resigning myself, I will give the opportunity to shed light on all the facts and come to clarity,” Ratas wrote.
He, however, noted that he personally has not done anything wrong.
“Despite taking political responsibility, I can say with all my heart that, as prime minister, I have not made any malicious or deliberately wrong decisions,” he wrote on Facebook.
Following his announcement, reports said parties immediately started talks on cobbling together a new government.
In a swift reaction, Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid said she would propose that Kaja Kallas, chairwoman of the main opposition Reform Party, form the new Cabinet.
Records have it that Ratas has led a majority coalition of his left-leaning Center Party, the nationalist EKRE party and the conservative Fatherland party since April 2019. He has held the post of prime minister of the Baltic country of 1.3 million since November 2016.
Meanwhile, Estonia’s security police has disclosed that it was investigating the offices of state credit agency KredEx over suspicions of corruption regarding a 39 million-euro ($48 million) loan granted to the Porto Franco real estate complex in harbour district of the capital, Tallinn.
Delineating on the development, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said separately it suspected the Center Party and five people of criminal involvement in the Porto Franco real estate case including party secretary Mihhail Korb, real estate businessman Hillar Teder and Kersti Kraht, an advisor to the country’s finance minister.