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Swedish formin resigns after cartoons' row

Written by: Staff

STOCKHOLM, Mar 21 (Reuters) Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds resigned today after accusations that she acted unconstitutionally over the closure of a far-right web site which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The resignation comes just six months before the ruling Social Democrats face what analysts expect to be a tight election against a resurgent opposition.

''Under the current circumstances I find it impossible to conduct my work and therefore choose to resign,'' Freivalds said at a news conference.

Freivalds, who was also widely criticised over the government's bungled response to the Asian tsunami in which around 500 Swedes were among the more than 200,000 who died, will be replaced temporarily by Deputy Prime Minister Bosse Ringholm, Prime Minister Goran Persson said.

''It was her own decision,'' Persson said.

Opposition politicians had called for her to resign saying she gave misleading information over the foreign ministry's involvement in shutting down a far-right web site showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which caused Muslim anger around the world.

Freivalds originally said that she did not know that the foreign ministry had contacted the web hosting company.

But documents published this week showed she had been informed that a foreign ministry official had spoken with the company which then closed the web site belonging to the anti-immigrant Swedish Democrat party.

Political pressure on a company to close such a website would be against the Swedish constitution.


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