Sao Tome and Principe's government has said Foreign Minister Ovidio Pequeno has been disloyal to the cabinet and his explanation of the irregular use of foreign aid funds was "improper".
According to reports reaching here on Monday, Sao Tome's Cabinet, with Maria do Carmo Silveira Prime Minister, held an extraordinary meeting Saturday to discuss the week-old scandal, issuing a harsh statement condemning the spending of Moroccan aid funds by Pequeno.
But the cabinet did not say if any sanction it would take towards Pequeno, whose resignation has been demanded by parties backing the government.
The government's statement said, "as government, the Foreign Affairs Minister is hierarchically subordinate to the Prime Minister, before whom he has the duty to inform and the obligation of loyalty, leaving no room for secrecy", and described Pequeno's explanation of his use of 407,000 euros (about 488,000 US dollars), without government authorization, to buy goods, equipment and protocol vehicles through and the embassy account in Gabon as " improper".
The Prime Minister Silveira ordered an "urgent" inquiry into the affair last Tuesday after local newspaper Equador reported the alleged misuse of foreign aid funds by Pequeno, who was then absent on vacation in the United States.
On his return home Friday, the foreign minister issued a statement saying the funds had been a one-off and "direct" donation from the king of Morocco to de Menezes and, as such, could be transferred and spent without authorization from Silveira, who also serves as finance minister. Previous presidents had followed the same practice with such personal donations, Pequeno added.