3 Jul 2013

Portuguese PM adamant he will not stand down

9:49 am on 3 July 2013

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho of Portugal said on Tuesday he will not stand down, despite the resignation of two key members of his government in two days.

He said he would not abandon his country, after Foreign Minister Paulo Portas announced his resignation.

On Monday, Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar stepped down, pointing to public opposition to austerity measures.

Mr Portas was given the task of overseeing budget cuts when Mr Gaspar resigned.

"I won't give up on my country," the prime minister said in a televised address on Tuesday.

Portugal is struggling to meet the terms of a bailout worth 78 billion euros.

The BBC reports the coalition has found it difficult to meet the terms of the bailout agreed in 2011 by the previous government.

Austerity measures are blamed for causing Portugal's worst economic crisis since the 1970s.

Portugal has been in recession for two years and the economy is expected to contract by 2.3% this year. Unemployment is over 17.5%.

A general strike was held last week, which brought public transport to a halt.

Mr Gaspar said in his resignation letter that he was leaving because of the growing erosion of public support for austerity measures.