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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Portugal names new prime minister
Pedro Santana Lopes
Critics see Santana Lopes as a political lightweight
Portugal's president has appointed Pedro Santana Lopes to be the country's next prime minister.

He replaces Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who resigned to take up an offer to head the European Commission.

Mr Santana Lopes, the mayor of Lisbon, was elected leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party this month.

President Jorge Sampaio rejected calls for an early general election, opting to ask the Social Democrats to form a new government.

He said continuity was in Portugal's best interests at a time when the country was still struggling to pull out of recession.

EU leaders picked Mr Durao Barroso - who was halfway through his term - to be the next European Commission president at a special summit in Brussels last month.

Limited experience

"I have been appointed as prime minister and now I will begin the necessary talks to form a new government," Mr Santana Lopes, 48, told reporters after a meeting with President Sampaio lasting about 40 minutes.

In a political career spanning more than two decades, the new prime minister designate has had little experience of government at national level, having held only a number of minor offices.

Before becoming Lisbon mayor, his most senior post was as secretary of state for culture between 1991 and 1994.

Barroso resigns to take EU post
05 Jul 04  |  Europe
Barroso offers EU a fresh lead
29 Jun 04  |  Europe
Portuguese PM gets EU's top job
29 Jun 04  |  Europe
Country profile: Portugal
30 Jun 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Portugal
10 Feb 04  |  Country profiles

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