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Ohly: government must stop following US policy

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19:38 CEST+02:00
The leader of Sweden's Left Party, Lars Ohly, fiercely attacked the government's foreign and criminal justice policies in a summer speech at the launch of his party's election campaign outside Gnesta on Sunday.

Ohly demanded that the visa requirement for Lebanese people should be abolished and that Israel be 'isolated'.

According to the Left Party, Israel is guilty of 'state terrorism'.

"We ought to have had a government which protested against Israel's crime, instead of following the lead of the USA and the European capitals," said Ohly.

The Left Party leader said that the government has woken up to the crisis too late and that the criticism of Israel is far too mild.

"A new radical and independent foreign policy is required," said Ohly, maintaining that there is a fundamental difference between the foreign policies of the Left Party and the government.

He said he hoped that public pressure would influence the government to change course.

"It would be even worse with conservative policies, with a Lars Leijonborg who puts an umbrella up when it rains in Washington," said Ohly.

The Left Party, which wants Sweden to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan, has previously expressed opposition to Swedish troops taking part in a peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

But after the Lebanese government unanimously backed a ceasefire, Ohly said that he is prepared to discuss Swedish participation.

"I'm not ruling it out," he said.

In his speech, Ohly also criticised the fact that the government now discusses prison and punishment more often than criminal care, and he demanded "a new crime policy" instead of "Thomas Bodström's hard line".

Other demands included increased salaries for women, greater labour rights, a price for dental care which is comparable with medical care, investment in new energy technologies and, most important of all, jobs for all.

With Sweden's economic figures looking up there is, according to Ohly, room to develop welfare, to create more jobs and to allow the public sector to be the motor for growth.

Ohly has made it clear that he would not consider propping up a new minority government following September's election.

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