Reps To Investigate Purported Resignation Of Over 356 Soldiers

In this photo released by the House of Representatives, some lawmakers are seated during one of the plenaries in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.


The House of Representatives is to investigate the purported resignation of over 356 soldiers from the Nigerian army.

This follows a motion of urgent public importance raised by the Chief Whip, Mohammed Monguno, and co-sponsored by three other leaders of the house.

According to the motion, a memo from the aggrieved soldiers was sent to the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, dated July 3, with reference number NA/COAS/001, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen (revised) 2017.

READ ALSO: Reps Endorse Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s Candidacy As DG Of World Trade Organisation

In leading the debate, Monguno stated that the protests by junior officers of the Nigerian army have become a recurring decimal which is a serious source of concern.

He feared that the morale of the officers is at an all-time low which is affecting the outcome of the war against insurgency.

The house has mandated its Committee on the Army to investigate and report back in a week.

Death Threat Forces Guinea Bissau Interim President To Resign


The man appointed interim president of Guinea-Bissau by the side beaten in the December presidential election has stepped down because of death threats, less than two days after being nominated.

“Given the death threats against me and my bodyguards, I have decided to give up the role of interim president for which I was nominated, to avoid a bloodbath in Guinea-Bissau,” said Cipriano Cassama.

“I fear for my physical integrity,” he said in a press statement, less than 48 hours after he was appointed by the country’s historic ruling party, the PAIGC.

“My life and that of my family is in danger. I have no security,” he said, adding that soldiers had come for his bodyguards on Friday.

But he said he would stay on as leader of the National Assembly.

The PAIGC has dominated political life since the former Portuguese colony won independence in 1974, and on Friday 54 of its deputies, out of the 102 parliamentary seats, appointed Cassama interim president.

Two rival contenders for the presidency have been battling to assume power since the December 29 run-off vote.

Opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo 47, won 53.55 per cent of the votes in the second-round vote, according to the National Electoral Commission.

Domingos Simoes Pereira, 56, also from PAIGC, won 46.45 per cent but denounced the result as fraudulent.

 Ousted premier denounces ‘attempted coup’ 

The Supreme Court, responding to a petition by the PAIGC, ordered a check of the vote tally sheets, but this has failed to resolve the dispute, with a row breaking out between the Supreme Court and the election panel.

On Thursday, Embalo conducted his own presidential swearing-in ceremony and moved into the presidential palace, without waiting for a final ruling from the Supreme Court.

On Friday, he appointed Nuno Gomes Nabiam as prime minister after sacking the internationally recognised incumbent Aristides Gomes.

Embalo, a former prime minister who fell out with the ruling party, styled himself as the outsider in the election campaign. He has vowed to break with the decades-long domination of the PAIGC.

But after soldiers occupied the prime minister’s office on Friday evening, according to an AFP correspondent, Gomes denounced what he described as “attempted coup”, in a statement on his Facebook page.

Guinea-Bissau has suffered chronic instability since independence, with the army often playing a major role. The country has suffered four coups and 16 attempted coups since 1974, the last one in 2012.

One of the world’s poorest countries, it is also ranked as one of the most corrupt.

Drug traffickers use it as a transit point, moving cocaine in from Latin America towards Europe, with the suspected cooperation of army officers.


British Minister Disagrees With PM Johnson, Resigns

Britain’s finance minister, Sajid Javid, resigned on February 13, 2020, just weeks after Brexit and a month before he was due to deliver the government’s annual budget. AFP


Sajid Javid quit as Britain’s finance minister on Thursday just weeks before the scheduled annual budget statement, in a shock move provoked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempts to shake up his cabinet after Brexit.

The chancellor of the Exchequer said he had “no option but to resign” after Johnson offered to keep him on but only if he got rid of all his political advisers.

“I was unable to accept these conditions,” he told reporters outside his home.

“I don’t believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions and so, therefore, I felt the best thing to do was to go.”

Javid was immediately replaced by his 39-year-old deputy, Rishi Sunak, a former investment banker and Brexit supporter who is seen as close to Johnson.

Former Brexit minister Steve Barclay took over Sunak’s position as chief secretary to the Treasury.

The pound briefly retreated on Javid’s departure but soon recovered as analysts said the new chancellor could open the way for more public spending and growth.

Sunak appears more aligned with Johnson than his predecessor in backing a looser fiscal policy, noted Paul Dales, the chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

“The move seems designed to allow the government to push through even bigger increases in public investment and perhaps resuscitate tax cuts that previously looked dead in the water,” he said.

But Javid’s decision to quit rather than buckle to pressure also presents a challenge to Johnson’s authority, just as he seemed at his strongest.

After his election victory in December, Johnson fulfilled his pledge to get Britain out of the European Union on January 31 — but the country’s future ties with the bloc remain uncertain.

 ‘Stooge as chancellor’ 

Johnson began his cabinet reshuffle by sacking his ministers for Northern Ireland, business, housing and the environment, as well as his attorney general.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Johnson’s de facto deputy Michael Gove and several other key ministers stayed in the post — and Javid was widely assumed to be safe.

But there have been reports that the former City of London banker, born into a working-class Muslim family, had clashed with both the prime minister and his influential adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Javid refused to say whether the pressure came from Cummings.

Johnson’s spokesman said a new economic team of special political aides had been formed to jointly advise both the prime minister and the chancellor.

Asked whether the planned Budget statement would still take place on March 11, he said only: “Extensive preparations have already been carried out for the Budget and they will continue at pace.”

The main opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell said the government was “in crisis”. Cummings had “won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury” and appointed a “stooge”, he added.

Northern Ireland minister out 

Johnson had earlier sacked Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith, a surprising move given Smith’s role in restoring the power-sharing government to Belfast last month after a three-year suspension.

Smith helped persuade the two main parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to work together for the first time since the executive collapsed in January 2017 in a scandal over a renewable energy scheme.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar led tributes to Smith’s efforts, saying he was “one of Britain’s finest politicians of our time”.

His Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who was also closely involved in the power-sharing talks, said that without Smith’s leadership there would be no government in Belfast.

“You have been such an effective secretary of state for Northern Ireland at a time of real challenge and risk,” he said.

Arlene Foster, who as DUP leader was restored as the first minister of Northern Ireland under the deal, also hailed his “dedication to the role”.

But The Times newspaper said Johnson felt “blindsided” by the deal because it includes an investigation into alleged crimes by British soldiers during decades of sectarian violence known as The Troubles.

Johnson appointed Brandon Lewis as Smith’s replacement.

After years of political turmoil over Brexit, Johnson wants to focus this year on domestic issues, including investments in police, healthcare and infrastructure.

He used Thursday’s reshuffle to announce Alok Sharma as his new business and energy minister, with a new responsibility for running the UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Claire O’Neill, the former president of the so-called COP 26 summit, was sacked last month. She subsequently warned that planning for the summit was “miles off track”.


Russian PM Resigns Over Constitutional Reform Calls

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev meet with members of the government in Moscow on January 15, 2020.  AFP


Russia’s government resigned in a shock announcement on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin proposed a shake-up of the constitution.

The announcement by Putin’s longtime ally Dmitry Medvedev came after the president used his annual state of the nation address to call for a nationwide vote on a package of constitutional reforms.

The resignation raises deep questions about the long-term shape of Russia’s political system and the future of Putin, who is due to step down at the end of his fourth Kremlin term in 2024.

A few hours after the Russian leader’s address, Medvedev and Putin appeared alongside each other on national television to say the government was stepping down.

Medvedev said the constitutional proposals would make significant changes to the country’s balance of power and so “the government in its current form has resigned”.

“We should provide the president of our country with the possibility to take all the necessary measures” to carry out the changes, Medvedev said. “All further decisions will be taken by the president.”

Putin thanked Medvedev — who also served as Russian president for four years from 2008 — expressing “satisfaction with the results that have been achieved.”

The changes Putin proposed on Wednesday would transfer more authority to parliament, including the power to choose the prime minister and senior cabinet members, instead of the president as under the current system.

Other changes would see the role of regional governors enhanced and residency requirements tightened for presidential candidates.

“Today in our society there is a clear demand for change,” Putin said in his address. “People want development, they are striving to move forward in their careers, in their education, in becoming prosperous.”

The package of reforms would be put to a national vote, he said, without specifying when.

“We will be able to build a strong prosperous Russia only on the basis of respect for public opinion,” the 67-year-old leader said.

 ‘Leader for life’ 

Speculation has swirled about changes to Russia’s political system that would allow Putin to stay on after 2024.

Some have suggested he could remain as a prime minister with increased powers or in a powerful behind-the-scenes role.

It was unclear how, if at all, the constitutional changes could affect Putin’s future role.

But leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said he expected any referendum to be “fraudulent crap” and that Putin’s goal remained to be “sole leader for life”.

Russia last conducted a referendum in 1993 when it adopted the constitution under Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin.

Putin has held a firm grip on the country since coming to power with Yeltsin’s resignation in 1999, staying on as prime minister when Medvedev took the presidency.

Re-elected to a six-year term in 2018, Putin has seen his approval ratings fall to some of their lowest levels, though still far above those of most Western leaders.

Recent polls put Putin’s rating at 68-70 percent, up a few points from a year ago but down from a high of more than 80 percent at the time of his last election.

Hit by Western sanctions over the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia’s economy has stagnated and most Russians have seen their disposable income fall.

Frustration boiled over last summer, with thousands taking to the streets of Moscow to protest the exclusion of opposition candidates from local elections, leading to wide-scale arrests and long jail terms for a number of demonstrators.

The state of the nation address — delivered in the Manezh exhibition hall next to the Kremlin — is one of three big annual Putin events, along with a marathon press conference and live phone-in where he takes questions from the Russian public.

Finland PM Rinne Resigns After Losing Support

Prime Minister of Finland Antti Rinne gives a press conference where he announces his resignation at the Government Palace in Helsinki, Finland on December 3, 2019. Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva / AFP


Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne resigned on Tuesday after losing the support of the coalition partner Centre Party, though the governing alliance is expected to stay in power to avoid a snap election.

A Social Democrat who has headed the centre-left five-party government since June, Rinne handed his resignation to President Sauli Niinisto, who asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government has been appointed, the presidency said.

“All of the governing parties have confidence in me, except the Centre Party. When I was told why they no longer have confidence in me, I made the decision to resign,” Rinne said.

The Centre Party was angered after the prime minister was accused of lying by the head of Finland Post — the culmination of a long-running dispute over reforms to the pay and conditions for some postal workers.

“All of the government parties are committed to the… government programme. If (me) being prime minister jeopardises the government programme, it is better that I steer clear of it,” Rinne told reporters.

The Social Democrats, Finland’s biggest party, will now appoint a successor to try to form a new government, which could take days or even weeks.

Sanna Marin, the party’s number two behind Rinne and the current minister of transport, has already said she would be willing to take over.

Political analyst Sini Korpinen said the coalition parties — the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Centre, Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party — would in all likelihood agree to carry on together, as it was not in any of their interests to bring down the government.

That is especially true for the Centre Party, which “doesn’t want elections because they’d do worse” than last time.

“The most probable (scenario) is that they will carry on, with the same government programme” but possibly changing a few cabinet ministers, she told AFP.

– Finland Post crisis –

Rinne’s resignation comes after several weeks of political crisis over a plan to move 700 employees of Finland Post, a public limited company with the state as sole shareholder, to a less advantageous collective wage agreement to improve competition.

In September, criticism initially focused on the minister in charge of state ownership, Sirpa Paatero, a member of Rinne’s SDP.

The crisis deepened in November when a large strike broke out, with employees of other industries walking off the job in sympathy with the postal employees, which is permitted under Finnish labour law.

Finland Post withdrew its reform plans, but unions demanded to know whether the state had approved the reform. Paatero made several contradictory remarks before Rinne stepped in on November 28.

The prime minister denied that the state had given its blessing, but the following day the company’s chairman of the board accused Rinne of lying.

Rinne then announced Paatero’s resignation, but the move was seen as too little too late.

The Social Democrats won April’s legislative elections on promises to end years of economic belt-tightening introduced by the Centre Party to lift Finland out of a recession, and prioritising social equality.


Protesters Ask Roman Mayor Raggi To Resign

People take part in a peaceful protest march of members of Roman citizens committees, groups and associations that say care about the future of Rome and want to take charge themselves of the Italian capital, on October 26, 2019. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP


Hundreds of people marched along the Tiber River on Saturday to demand Rome mayor Virginia Raggi resign over the state of the Italian capital.

“Raggi is turning the city into somewhere to run away from, instead of a city where people can live with dignity, work and build their future,” the Tutti per Rome (Everyone for Rome) organisation said ahead of the rally.

“The whole world pities us,” it said.

The march came a day after trade unions in Rome staged a general strike, with workers including bus drivers and garbage collectors taking a stand against the mayor and her ruling Five Star Movement administration.

The Eternal City’s streets are riddled with potholes, buses regularly catch fire and officials have warned the perennial garbage crisis constitutes a health risk, with rat control services working overtime as bins overflow near tourist sites, homes and schools.

Raggi became the capital’s first female mayor in 2016 by tapping into anger over corruption scandals — in particular the infiltration of crime families in the city’s waste management system.

In April this year she defended herself against accusations she had failed to turn the situation around, saying Rome was “under attack” from mobsters determined not to release their grip on a lucrative sector.


Peru Vice President Resigns, Calls For Elections

Peruvian Vice-President Mercedes Araoz is pictured in Davos, Switzerland, as she joins Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Colombian President Ivan Duque while they give a statement recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP


Peru’s vice president resigned and called for elections Tuesday, hours after parliament appointed her to lead the fight against the president’s dissolution of the body amid a bitter deadlock over corruption and appointments to the Supreme Court.

“I have decided to resign irrevocably from the position of Second Constitutional Vice President of the Republic,” Mercedes Araoz wrote on Twitter alongside a resignation letter, adding she hoped for “general elections in the shortest term.”

Lawmakers had accused President Martin Vizcarra of a “coup d’etat” after he dissolved the opposition-dominated Congress and called for fresh elections Monday, voting to suspend him temporarily from the presidency and appointing Araoz as leader.

But thousands poured into the streets of Lima and other cities in a show of support for Vizcarra — whose anti-graft drive is widely popular — with the armed forces and police confirming their backing of the president and a dozen regional governors joining celebratory street protests.

“There’s too much corruption. Too much of it without any shame. It’s high time this happened, that there’s a change,” said protester Jenny Sanchez in Lima, as demonstrators waved flags saying “New Peru.”

The resignation of Araoz — who had allied with supporters of corruption-tainted former opposition leader Keiko Fujimori — comes after the Organization of American States (OAS) refused to get involved in the Peru power dispute.

The body said Tuesday that it was up to Peru’s Constitutional Court to decide on the legality of the dissolution, and that it was “fair that the political polarization in the country will be resolved by the people at the polls.”

A number of lawmakers were considering appealing to the court to revoke the dissolution, according to Congress speaker Pedro Olaechea.

Despite the heated stand-off, Peru went about its business as usual on Tuesday, with the only noticeable change being heightened security around the government palace and Congress.

January elections 

Vizcarra’s call for fresh polls on January 26 was validated Tuesday by the independent National Jury of Elections.

The upcoming polls will likely favor leftist parties like Nuevo Peru and Frente Amplio, which supported the dissolution, political analyst Fernando Rospigliosi told AFP.

Under an electoral reform enacted last year, lawmakers cannot run for re-election. A new Congress would only have a mandate until 2021, to complete the five-year period for which the dissolved Congress was elected.

Until the elections, legislative duties will fall to a 27-member Permanent Congressional Commission, 18 of whom are opposition lawmakers, led by Congress speaker Pedro Olaechea, who accuses Vizcarra of unlawfully seizing power.

Vizcarra has repeatedly clashed with Congress, which is dominated by the Popular Force party of Keiko Fujimori.

He had warned Congress on Sunday that he would dissolve the body if it denied him a vote of confidence Monday on reforming the method of appointing magistrates. The move was aimed at preventing the opposition from taking control of the Supreme Court.


Peru’s grinding political stand-off has its roots in the 2016 presidential election, when banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski beat Keiko Fujimori.

Although she lost her bid for the presidency, her party won an overwhelming majority in Congress, eventually forcing Kuczynski’s resignation last year amid a corruption scandal.

Kuczynski was replaced by Vizcarra, then first vice president, who has vowed to clean up Peruvian politics.

Fujimori is the eldest daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori and is herself in prison awaiting trial after being accused of accepting $1.2 million in illicit party funding from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential campaign.

The Supreme Court is currently debating whether to free Keiko — once Peru’s most popular politician — from pre-trial detention.

Odebrecht has admitted paying at least $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials since 2004.

Three former presidents, including Kuczynski, are also being investigated over Odebrecht, while a fourth, Alan Garcia, committed suicide in April after police arrived at his house to arrest him for money laundering.


Algeria’s Minister Resigns After Deadly Stampede


Algeria’s Culture Minister Meriem Merdaci resigned Saturday, following the deaths of five young music fans in a stampede at a packed concert by rapper Soolking in the capital, the president’s office announced.

It said Merdaci handed her resignation to interim president Abdelkader Bensalah “who accepted it”.

On Friday, prime minister Noureddine Bedoui fired the head of ONDA (the National Office of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights), the public authority in charge of organising concerts. An investigation has been opened.

READ ALSO: Three Killed In Libya’s Air Raid

Thursday night’s stampede that killed five people aged between 13 and 22 came as fans thronged an entrance of the August-20 Stadium in Algiers where France-based Soolking was performing.

The 29-year-old is a major star in the North African country, his song “La Liberte” (Freedom) becoming a mainstay of anti-government protests that entered their seventh month on Friday.


DR Congo Health Minister Resigns Over Ebola

Congo’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga gestures as he speaks during a press conference following a meeting held by the United Nations on the Ebola disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on July 15, 2019, in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP


DR Congo’s health minister resigned Monday after President Felix Tshisekedi replaced him as the head of the country’s response to an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,700 people.

“As a result of your decision to place the response to the Ebola outbreak under your direct supervision… I hereby submit my resignation as health minister,” Oly Ilunga said in a letter to his boss.


President Sall’s Brother Resigns Following Corruption Charges

Senegalese President Macky Sall.                                                                                  SEYLLOU / AFP


Senegalese President Macky Sall’s brother on Monday resigned as head of a state-run savings deposit after he was named in a BBC report on apparent mismanagement of national gas resources.

The BBC report broadcast earlier this month has caused an outcry in the poor West African country by suggesting a gas deal signed with BP had deprived the state of badly needed energy income.

The report says a company run by Sall’s younger brother Aliou Sall had been secretly paid a bonus in 2014 by the gas company that sold its shares in two Senegal gasfields to BP.

READ ALSO: Suspected Mastermind Of Ethiopia Attacks Shot Dead – Report

Aliou Sall had denied allegations in the report warning he would file suit against the BBC. BP has also rejected the report.

The president’s brother on Monday said he was stepping down as head of the Caisse des Depots et Consignations or CDC fund he has directed since September 2017.

“I hereby notify you of my decision to step down,” Aliou Sall said. “This unfortunate controversy is based only on untruths.”

President Sall has himself called the accusations an attempt to destabilise a country trying to make the most of its natural resources.

In 2012, then newly-elected president Sall confirmed a decision taken by his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade to award exploitation rights for two offshore oil and gas fields to the Timis Corporation, controlled by an Australian-Romanian businessman, Frank Timis.

The BBC, in its report broadcast on its Panorama and Africa Eye programmes, said that two years later Timis Corporation secretly paid a “bonus” of $250,000 (222,000 euros) to Agritrans, a company controlled by Aliou Sall.

The president’s brother had already stepped down in October 2016 from his post in the Timis group after facing criticism of a possible conflict of interest.

Pressure has intensified on Sall since the report with protests from opponents and civil society to demand “transparency” in contracts related to the exploitation of gas and oil.


Rudi Garcia To Resign As Marseille Coach

Olympique de Marseille’s French head coach Rudi Garcia looks on during the French L1 football match between Caen (SMC) and Marseille (OM), at the Michel d’Ornano stadium, in the northwestern city of Caen.  CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP


Rudi Garcia will step down as Marseille coach following this weekend’s final round of Ligue 1 matches after the French giants failed to qualify for European football next season.

“I’ve decided to leave. I put forth this solution to my president who accepted it,” Garcia said at a press conference Wednesday, sat alongside Marseille chief Jacques-Henri Eyraud.

The 55-year-old Garcia was appointed coach in October 2016 with the mandate of leading Marseille back into the Champions League, shortly after the club’s takeover by American tycoon Frank McCourt.

READ ALSO: Ghana Captain Gyan Backtracks On Retirement After Presidential Plea

He extended his deal last October until 2021, but Garcia will leave the Velodrome with two years remaining on his contract after missing out on a top-three finish.

Marseille are in sixth place, 11 points adrift of the Champions League places, going into Friday’s final game of the season against fifth-placed Montpellier.

“Rudi is a great coach and a man of great quality,” said Eyraud, who dismissed reports of an eight-figure payout for Garcia and his assistants.


Far-Right Ministers To Resign From Austria Govt After Scandal

Austrian Transport Minister and designated leader of far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) Norbert Hofer (L) and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPOe) address a press conference, on May 20, 2019, in Vienna.  HANS PUNZ / APA / AFP


Austrian far-right ministers on Monday were ready to quit their posts, the party chief said after the country’s coalition government collapsed over a corruption scandal days before European elections.

Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for fresh elections after a hidden-camera sting forced his far-right deputy to resign, bringing an end to a coalition many on the European right held up as a model.

With Kurz scrambling to regain control over the weekend, saying he can no longer tolerate the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) scandals, media speculation is growing he will also oust far-right Interior Minister Herbert Kickl.

READ ALSO: Thousands Protest Alabama Abortion Law

The FPOe closed ranks behind Kickl, threatening to quit their cabinet posts, which besides the interior ministry include the foreign, defence, transport and social affairs ministries.

“We will give up our government offices if Interior Minister Herbert Kickl is forced out,” Norbert Hofer, who is infrastructure minister and took over the FPOe leadership on Sunday, told a press conference.

“I feel very sorry that such a great government project ends so soon… I think this government was very popular,” he said, adding that Kickl had done “nothing wrong”.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Sunday suggested elections be held in early September with a date to be fixed after further talks with other parties.

 Fake Russian backer 

Heinz-Christian Strache stepped down as vice-chancellor and FPOe leader after recordings published by German media Friday showed him offering government contracts in return for campaign help to a fake Russian backer in a villa on the resort island of Ibiza.

Elsewhere in the footage, Strache appears to hint at ways political donations could escape legal scrutiny.

Kickl was FPOe secretary general at the time when any political donations would have been made. Strache on Saturday denied the party had received illegal funds.

“It is clear Herbert Kickl cannot investigate himself,” Kurz was quoted by the Kurier newspaper on Monday.

He has said the recordings were the final straw in a string of FPOe-related scandals.

The most damaging recent controversy linked to interior minister Kickl was last year when he ordered raids on the country’s own domestic intelligence agency BVT.

Numerous documents were seized, raising fears among Austria’s Western partners about the possibility of leaks to Moscow.

The FPOe has a cooperation agreement with President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

 Thousands demonstrate 

Over the weekend thousands of people demonstrated in Vienna against the government at an impromptu gathering in front of the chancellery on Saturday, as well as at a previously planned pro-EU rally on Sunday.

In an emotional resignation statement Saturday, Strache said he had been “stupid” and “irresponsible” but was the victim of a “targeted political attack”.

In the recordings — of unknown origin — Strache and a colleague from his party, who has also resigned, are seen talking to a woman purporting to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

They discuss how she could gain control of the country’s largest-circulation tabloid, the Kronen Zeitung, and install editorial staff who would help the FPOe’s 2017 election campaign.

In return, Strache held out the possibility of awarding public contracts.

The Kremlin on Monday denied any involvement in the sting operation.

The scandal has already made waves outside of Austria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend reacted to the scandal by warning of the dangers of far-right politicians “for sale”, who wanted to “destroy the Europe of our values”.

The scandal may also dent the prospects of the far-right populist alliance marshalled by Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, in which the FPOe plays a key part.