Estonian Prime Minister Resigns Over Corruption Scandal, Denies Personal Involvement

FRANCE-ESTONIA-DIPLOMACY

Jüri Ratas | Ludovic Marin AFP via Getty Images By Merlin Sugue

Estonia's prime minister, Juri Ratas, resigned Wednesday after his ruling Center Party came under investigation as part of a corruption probe. "In such a situation, giving, through my resignation, a possibility to shed light on all circumstances and achieve clarity seems the only right thing to do".

The move automatically prompts the resignation of Estonia's three-party coalition government but does not automatically mean a new election.

BNS said Ratas' party was declared suspect on Tuesday in a criminal investigation over the financing of a property development project in Tallinn.

Ratas said he personally hasn't done anything wrong.

After Ratas' announcement, parties immediately started talks on cobbling together a new government. The spokeswoman, Liisi Poll, said the president will have the task of proposing the next leader of government to the parliament.

He then blocked the victor from taking power by forming a surprise coalition of his left-leaning Center Party, the conservative Fatherland party and EKRE that gave the three parties a majority in parliament.

There are now five political parties represented at Estonia's 101-seat Riigikogu legislature, or Parliament.

Ratas has led a majority coalition of his left-leaning Centre Party, the nationalist EKRE party and the conservative Fatherland party since April 2019.

The owner of the company's father, businessman Hillar Teder, donated large sums to the Center Party.

Estonia is a member of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since 2004.

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