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Spain PM faces call to resign over fund scam

Statesman News Service |

Agence France-Presse
Madrid, 15 July
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced calls to resign over a slush fund scandal roiling his ruling Popular Party.
The issue blew up again after the publication of friendly mobile text messages he purportedly sent to the disgraced treasurer at the heart of the affair.
The leader of Spain’s main Opposition Socialist Party, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said he was severing all contact with the prime minister and his party yesterday.
“Given the unsustainable political situation in Spain, the Socialist Party calls for the immediate
resignation of Mariano Rajoy as head of the government,” he told reporters in Madrid. “Mr Rajoy’s conduct in this situation can be summarised quite simply: silence, lies, and after
what we have learned today, collusion, extremely serious collusion,” Mr Rubalcaba said. Dozens of protesters, outraged by the corruption allegations at a time
of recession and record unemployment, rallied
 outside the Popular Party’s Madrid headquarters, chanting “Thieves!” and “Here is Ali Baba’s cave!”.
The centre-right daily El Mundo newspaper published images of the alleged text messages between
Mr Rajoy and Mr Luis Barcenas, the former ruling party treasurer who is in pre-trial detention as part of a separate corruption inquiry.
Mr Barcenas is suspected of running a party slush fund financed by corporate donors who were then rewarded with state contracts. The cash was allegedly used to supplement senior party members’ salaries.
According to El Mundo, the prime minister sent messages to Mr Barcenas between May 2011 and March 2013, ending some two months after the scandal erupted.
Mr Rajoy kept in direct and permanent contact with Mr Barcenas, El Mundo said. “Luis, I understand, be strong. I will call you tomorrow. Best wishes,” said one of the messages purportedly from Mr Rajoy to Mr Barcenas, dated 18 January this year when El Mundo first published allegations over the slush fund.