Denmark reshuffles cabinet, 3 ministers replaced

14:28, March 09, 2011      

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Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced four new ministerial appointments in a cabinet reshuffle Tuesday after firing immigration minister and the resignation of education minister.

Minister for Development Cooperation Soeren Pind, 41, replaces the 68-year-old Birthe Roenn Hornbech as new minister for refugees, immigrants and integration, while also retaining his earlier portfolio.

Hornbech was sacked after it came to light that her ministry had refused citizenship to 36 stateless Palestinian youths who were born, raised and educated in Denmark, and therefore eligible for naturalization. The ministry had known since 2008 that it was in breach of UN conventions safeguarding the rights of stateless and young people, yet Hornbech did not report the failure to Parliament until 2010.

Analysts here say that Soeren Pind's appointment is important, as immigration and integration policies are likely to play a prominent role in the coming elections, scheduled to be held no later than November 2011. The government believes Pind will bring appropriate attention to the country's immigration policy.

Denmark's Liberal-Conservative coalition government relies on support from the right-wing Danish People's Party to preserve its majority in Parliament, and has increasingly tightened the country 's immigration and citizenship rules since it came to power in 2001.

Hornbech's other portfolio, as minister for church, was given to Per Stig Moeller, the current culture minister.

Meanwhile, Denmark's Education Minister, Tina Nedergaard stepped down from her post Tuesday citing personal reasons. She announced her resignation in advance of the cabinet reshuffle.

Nedergaard was replaced by Troels Lund Poulsen, the current minister for taxation, who was himself replaced by Peter Christensen, the Liberal Party's policy spokesperson.

Following a time-honored Danish tradition, Rasmussen presented Pind, Poulsen and Christensen to Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik at Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen on Tuesday afternoon. Moeller was unable to attend.

With the exception of Moeller, a Conservative, all the other appointees are staunch Liberal Party members, and according to analysts, are close to the prime minister and his inner-circle. All are expected to play an important role in the forthcoming general election campaign.

Source: Xinhua

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