Norway justice minister resigns, averting government crisis

AFP , Tuesday 20 Mar 2018

Former Norwegian Justice Minister
Former Norwegian Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug.

Norway's justice minister announced her resignation on Tuesday, averting a potential government crisis after she published a controversial Facebook post.

Sylvi Listhaug, who had been under fire for over a week, announced her resignation on the social media network, sparing Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg from calling a vote of confidence in the government, whose outcome was uncertain.

Listhaug, of the rightwing anti-immigration Progress Party, denounced "a pure witchhunt" by the opposition aimed at silencing her.

"I'm resigning but I promise to not remain silent in parliament," she wrote on Facebook.

At a press conference, Listhaug said the Norwegian parliament had become "a kindergarten" and that a government headed by Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store would be "a catastrophe" for the country.

Solberg meanwhile said that by resigning, Listhaug "had put government cooperation and politics first."

"Listhaug is a hardworking politician... and her departure is no obstacle to her becoming a minister at a later date," Solberg told a separate press conference.

In a Facebook post on March 9, Listhaug shocked the nation when she accused the opposition Labour Party, which was targeted by rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik in a 2011 massacre, of considering that "the rights of terrorists are more important than the security of the nation".

She was criticising Labour's opposition to a proposal to strip the citizenship of Norwegians who pose a threat to the nation's vital interests, without a court order.

Labour members were the main victims of the bloodiest attacks on Norwegian soil since WWII.

On July 22, 2011, Breivik, who once was a member of the Progress Party, killed 77 people in twin attacks: one targeting then Labour prime minister Jens Stoltenberg's office in Oslo and another against a Labour youth camp on the island of Utoya.

The Facebook post and the fact that her tardy apology was perceived as insincere led the opposition to call a vote of no-confidence against Listhaug, which could have brought down the entire minority government.

The vote was to have been held on Tuesday.

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