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Sweden Democrat head to remain on sick leave

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Sweden Democrat head to remain on sick leave
Jimmie Åkesson on election night. Photo: TT
08:22 CET+01:00
Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of Sweden's nationalist Sweden Democrats, will remain on sick leave until the end of March 2015.
The leader of the Sweden Democrat party announced in a press release that "things are going in the right direction", but said that he would remain on sick leave until the end of March, to rest and focus on his family.
 
The nationalist party leader added that he "felt noticeably better", but added that "it's important not to rush back to work." 
 
The party's deputy leader Mattias Karlsson commented:
 
"I'm immensely glad that his recovery is going in the right direction. Partly because Jimmie is a personal friend of mine, but also because he is Sweden's best party leader and we so clearly long to have him back in his good former shape."
 
There has been intense speculation about Jimmie Åkesson’s health and political future since he went on sick leave in October 2014, citing burnout in the aftermath of Sweden’s general election.

He was initially set to return to his post by the end of the year, but his leave was extended until the end of January. On Tuesday morning, Sweden's Expressen newspaper broke the story that he would remain on sick leave.

A spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats had previously announced that Jimmie Åkesson would “provide information” about his health on Tuesday morning.

Mattias Karlsson has been the party’s acting leader in Åkesson’s absence and some have suggested that he could take over permanently.

Last week, Sweden's Expressen newspaper published parts of an email written by Jimmie Åkesson in which he said that he had full confidence in Karlsson.

He added that he and Karlsson had "worked closely together for over 15 years" and said that any suggestions about rivalry between them had been "completely plucked out of the air."
 

The Sweden Democrats are the third largest political party in Sweden, scoring a record 12.9 percent of the vote in September’s election.

On Monday the party announced that it had chosen a new party secretary, with Richard Jomshof set to replace Björn Söder, one of the anti-immigration group's most senior and controversial officials.

Most recently, Söder questioned how "peaceful" Islam is, following the Paris terror shootings.

Richard Jomshof, a 43-year-old who is a former teacher, has been a member of parliament for the Sweden Democrats since 2010 and is based in Helsingborg in southern Sweden.

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