Monday 18 November 2019

Swedish PM reshuffles cabinet after no-confidence vote

Sweden's current Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. Photo: AP
Sweden's current Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. Photo: AP

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has reshuffled his minority cabinet in a bid to avert a government crisis.

Mr Lofven replaced two members after opposition parties demanded the ouster of three government ministers over one of the largest security breaches in the country's history.

He said the heads of the interior and infrastructure ministries had requested to leave but that defence minister Peter Hultqvist will remain in the cabinet because the no-confidence proposal against him was unfounded.

Addressing a news conference, Mr Lofven described the opposition motion to file a no-confidence vote against the three government ministers as "hasty and ill-planned," and said he did not want to continue the political crisis in Sweden.

"Now it's up to the parliament," Mr Lofven said.

The four right-wing opposition parties announced their plan on Wednesday but did not file the no-confidence motion. It was unclear if they would revise the planned motion to include only Mr Hultqvist.

The crisis came to a head when the populist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats said they would back the opposition in a no-confidence vote, giving them the required majority to oust the ministers.

The 2015 breach allowed IT workers abroad to access confidential information in Sweden's government and police database when the Transport Agency outsourced some of its services to IBM in the Czech Republic.

The three government ministers are blamed for incompetence and delaying the release of information. Mr Lofven, who described the incident as a disaster that put Sweden and Swedes in harm's way, said he first heard about it in January - some 18 months after the leak occurred.

Officials say they do not know if the breach caused any tangible damage. The head of the Transport Agency was fired in January for negligence and waiving security clearance requirements for some foreign IT workers, Swedish reports said.


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