Portugal's finance minister survives lawmaker spat, for now

FILE- In this Friday, Feb. 5 2016 file photo, Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno listens to journalists' questions during the presentation of his government's 2016 state budget, at the finance ministry in Lisbon. After calling a news conference to explain his widely criticized handling of a state-owned bank appointment, Centeno earned public statements of support from the prime minister and president, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's finance minister has kept his job — just.

After calling a news conference to explain his widely criticized handling of a state-owned bank appointment, Finance Minister Mario Centeno earned public statements of support from the prime minister and president.

Opposition parties say they suspect Centeno lied to lawmakers over the appointment. He denied that to reporters late Monday.

Centeno is credited with keeping Portugal's debt reduction policies on track, even while the center-left Socialist government reverses austerity measures, and he has won the respect of the country's eurozone partners.

Close to midnight, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa posted a statement on his website saying that, "with purely the national interest in mind, in the context of financial stability," he accepted Centeno's explanations.

Opposition parties made no immediate comment.