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Lars Danielsson resigns

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16:51 CEST+02:00
Lars Danielsson, the closest aide to Sweden's prime minister Göran Persson, has resigned after facing heavy criticism in a report about the Swedish government's handling of the tsunami catastrophe.

Danielsson, as state secretary to Persson, is head of the Office of the Prime Minister. His resignation comes at an inconvenient time for Persson, whose party is behind in opinion polls with just over two weeks to go until the general election.

Persson announced his aide's departure at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, after the two had spoken about the report from the Justice Ombudsman (JO), Nils-Olof Berggren.

"He has drawn the conclusion from the JO report that it is suitable for him to resign the leadership of the Office of the Prime Minister," Persson told the press conference in Växjö.

Danielsson was heavily criticised by Berggren for giving inconsistent accounts of his actions following the tsunami catastrophe. At issue was his claim to the official Catastrophe Commission inquiry that he made three telephone calls to foreign ministry official Hans Dahlgren during 26th December 2004.

Dahlgren says the calls never took place. At two further hearings Danielsson changed his account. Nils-Olof Berggren said that Danielsson had obstructed the commission's work.

Opposition parties said they were not satisfied with Danielsson's resignation, saying that questions remained to be answered.

"How can Göran Persson's most senior colleague fail to cooperate with JO and obstruct the work of the Catastrophe Commission and be protected by the prime minister the whole time," asked Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund.

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