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Three Swedish ministers face grilling from MPs over Kabul evacuation

Sweden's opposition has called three ministers for a grilling by the parliament's most powerful committee over the government's treatment of Afghan interpreters and other staff during the evacuation of Kabul.

Swedish government ministers Morgan Johansson, Ann Linde and Peter Hultqvist
Morgan Johansson (l), Ann Linde (c) and Peter Hultqvist (r) face a grilling from the Swedish parliament's most powerful committee. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The Moderate Party has called Morgan Johansson, Sweden’s justice minister; Ann Linde, its foreign minister; and Peter Hultqvist, its defence minister, for formal questioning in front of the Committee on the Constitution, which is the parliamentary body empowered to investigate the government’s actions. 

“We consider that the government has failed both in practice and in procedure when it comes to the evacuation from Afghanistan,” Pål Jonsson, the Moderate Party MP who reported them to the committee, told the Swedish broadcaster TV4.

In the application, Hultqvist and Johansson are accused of providing “completely incorrect information”. It claims that it was unconstitutional to treat translators and other local staff separately from Sweden’s existing refugee quota, and also that there were as many as 10,000 Afghan staff who, together with their family and dependents, could potentially come to Sweden, more than accommodated within the refugee quota.

“At root, this is about being able to demand from government representatives that the information they provide is correct, and should not be misleading or misrepresentative,” Jonson writes.

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In the application, Jonsson noted that foreign ministry employees had confirmed the impression the the government had acted too late and too slowly, and sharply criticised the way the government had handled local employees at Sweden’s embassy in Kabul.  

“They have, among other things, highlighted that there was no concrete plan for how the safety of local employees should be secured,” he writes. 

Johansson welcomed the investigation, saying it was “natural” that the parliament should investigate the operation.

“The government and its agencies had to solve a very difficult situation under extreme and dramatic circumstances and I am proud of the rescue operation which was carried out,” he said.

Sweden evacuated around 1,100 people from Afghanistan during the operation which concluded on August 27th, and the Foreign Ministry is currently working on a second phase of evacuation via neighbouring countries, Sveriges Radio has reported.

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CITIZENSHIP

Moderate MP calls for moratorium on Swedish citizenship grants

An MP for the right-wing Moderate party has called for a moratorium on Swedish citizenship until new tougher rules planned by the incoming right-wing government are in place.

Moderate MP calls for moratorium on Swedish citizenship grants

Fredrik Kärrholm, a former police officer newly elected as a Moderate MP, floated the idea of the moratorium in a tweet on Thursday. 

“The Christian Democrats, Liberals, Sweden Democrats and Moderates all want to tighten citizenship requirements,” he wrote. 

“Right now 96,411 applications are being processed. While new legislation is being hammered out, a moratorium on new citizenships should be considered.” 

The proposal seems to come from Kärrholm himself, and does not necessarily reflect Moderate Party policy, but it may indicate the thinking of some in the party over tightening citizenship, a subject which is bound to be a significant part of the ongoing discussions on the next government’s programme.  

Kärrholm caused controversy in the election campaign for posing in campaign literature dressed in police uniform, despite having left the police force in 2021. 

Sweden’s national police said at the time that it was inappropriate for former or serving police officers to use police uniform or symbols in political campaigns. 

“This is about preserving the confidence of the public and keeping political roles separate from roles as a public official,” police spokesperson Irene Sokolow told the Aftonbladet newspaper

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