Portugal gets new economy minister after insult in parliament

Portugal gets new economy minister after insult in parliamentLisbon  - Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos will on Monday be sworn in as economy minister after Manuel Pinho resigned from the post over making an offensive gesture to a political opponent, government sources said Friday.

Teixeira will hold both the finance and economy portfolios until the general elections in September.

Pinho was forced to step down suddenly on Thursday after making a horns gesture to a member of the opposition during a parliamentary debate on the state of the nation.

Communist representative Bernardino Soares was criticizing potential job losses at southern zinc mines.

Pinho, who has been handling the affair, imitated devil's horns, a gesture meaning that Soares was a cuckold.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates described the gesture as unjustifiable, and accepted Pinho's resignation.

A spokesman for Socrates' Socialist Party described Pinho's resignation as a "momentary affair" which had been "closed."

Joao Tiago Silveira said the affair would have no impact on the economic policy of the government, which has come under criticism over rising unemployment.

Pinho's resignation was nevertheless seen as a new blow to the socialists after they suffered a heavy defeat in the European elections in June.(dpa)