SAO TOME Jan 3 Sao Tome's President Manuel
Pinto da Costa dismissed Health Minister Leonel Pontes amid a
scandal over the misuse of development funding from Taiwan,
according to a presidential decree published on Friday.
On Thursday, Sao Tome's main opposition party - Independent
Democratic Action (ADI) - accused the minister of using funding
from Taiwan for his ministry for personal use.
ADI said the minister made use of $700 himself, and
channelled another $1000 to his wife and a brother, living in
Pontes told journalists he had tendered his resignation
ahead of the presidential decree to ensure political stability
and the good of the nation.
He admitted the payments but denied any wrongdoing, saying
that Sao Tome law allowed ministers to pay relatives for
services rendered to the ministry.
Sao Tome is one of the few African nations - including
Burkina Faso and Swaziland - that recognise Taiwan, which China
formally regards as a renegade province to be recovered by force
Sao Tome officials said in November that China would open a
trade mission to promote projects there, 16 years after it broke
off diplomatic relations.
(Reporting by Ricardo Neto; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by