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Swedish defence minister, Sten Tolgfors resigns after pressures from Saudi Arabian arms deal got exposed

Thursday, 29 March 2012
Swedish defence Minister, Sten Tolgfors, has been forced to resign what is described in Swedish press “he departs on his own accord”, referring to the Swedish prime minister's press secretary.

It looks like the debate on arms deals with Saudi Arabia heaped enormous pressure on the minister though in a joint press conference with the Prime minister today, the claim that the Saudi arm deal was not the main driver for his departure. It has possibly accelerated his decision, they said. No new information on the Saudi business was not given.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Tolgfors spoke at the press conference at 11 am Swedish time today. Reinfeldt said that he and Tolgfors last summer started discussing that it might be time for a shift in his chair as head of the Department of Defense. The debate about Saudi purchase of arms did not trigger his resignation it possibly accelerated it. In essence according to observers he might have been pushed rather that jump by his own accord.

They discussed how the business with Saudi Arabia was exposed by Swedish Radio. Of the secret documents that echo come across indicates that Swedish authorities and companies had advanced plans to help the Saudis to build a weapons factory. The crucial question was to what extent Sten Tolgfors known about this and what part he played in it.

Its three weeks ago since that news was broken out and the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) was also implicated as a consultant to be part of a project where a weapons factory was established in Saudi Arabia. Since the task was considered pushing the boundaries of what FOI had as jurisdiction it a ghost company was created known as SstI, and FOI staff who would coordinate the project.

Reports hold that people at Tolgfors own ministry were aware of the project, but according to the defense minister himself, he knew nothing relating to the set up of SstI until March 2010 when it was abandoned.

The story made some Swedish MP to make a complaint to the Parliamentary Constitutional Committee, one of three against Tolgfors recently.

Conservative Moderate party member Sten Tolgfors took over as defense minister 2007. He was previously Minister of Commerce between 2006 and 2007. Tolgfors is born in 1966 and resides in Örebro with her partner and two children.

“I am very proud of what we have done and that the Swedish armed force at the moment, in an international perspective, makes a difference,” said Tolgfors with reference to operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Libya.

Tolgfors also stress that his departure is motivated by the pressures of the job emphasizing the responsibility of the Swedes who takes risky assignments in the military.
 Also the “the recent media debate and pressure from that area also accounted,” said Tolgfors and hinted that his family been upset. “A four year old does not understand a media drive, but he/she knows how mom and dad are feeling.”
By Team

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