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Fury as politician gets embassy job

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23:57 CET+01:00
Unions at Sweden's foreign ministry are furious after a Centre Party politician was made second in command at the Swedish embassy in Helsinki.

Prime Minister Göran Persson has appointed Anders Ljunggren, a former ally of the government, to the position of minister at the embassy, a job which unions say usually goes to career diplomats.

They claim he is using the appointment to reward his former colleague.

"It's one thing for the government to appoint ambassadors," said Åke Isaksson, chairman of civil service union ST-UF.

"But now it appears that the foreign ministry has been ordered to appoint someone at a lower level than head of mission," Isaksson told Dagens Nyheter.

Now ST-UF and other civil service and diplomatic service unions have agreed to demand negotiations with government officials about the appointment.

Åke Isaksson says that the post of minister in Helsinki is usually given to someone within the foreign ministry. Unions were informed by the expedition manager, a leading official at the foreign ministry, that Ljunggren would get the job. He says he got the impression that the appointment had been made on direct orders from the prime minster's office.

Anders Ljunggren is a former deputy party secretary of the Centre Party, and played an important role in the cooperation between the Social Democratic government and the Centre Party in the 1990s. The Centre Party is now working in opposition to the Social Democrats. Ljunggren held positions in government departments as expert adviser and state secretary.

Wise choice - or typical cronyism?Discuss!

TT/The Local

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