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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 09:21 GMT
Sweden FM quits over cartoon row
Former Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds
Laila Freivalds resigned six months before an election
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds has resigned in a row related to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

She was strongly criticised in the press after it emerged that foreign ministry pressure had led to the closure of a far-right party's website.

The site had been due to publish the cartoons, which sparked a furore after their initial publication in Denmark.

She was also criticised over the Swedish response to the Asian tsunami, in which about 500 Swedes died.

Ms Freivalds resigned just six months before an election in Sweden, in which the ruling Social Democrats face a resurgent opposition.

"Under the current circumstances I find it impossible to conduct my work and therefore choose to resign," Ms Freivalds said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Goran Persson.

"It was her own decision," Mr Persson said after her announcement.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Bosse Ringholm would take over as foreign minister temporarily.

Ms Freivalds was rounded on by the press when a far-right website was forced to close on 9 February, after a foreign ministry official contacted the site's hosting company.

Critics said this was an intrusion on freedom of speech.

The minister said she did not order the official to contact the company, but a later report from the ministry said she was involved in the decision.




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