The minister steps down following public outcry over Saudi arms deal.
Tolgfors resigns as Minister for Defense
The minister steps down following public outcry and heavy parliamentary debates over Saudi arms deal. Sten Tolgfors, the Swedish Minister for Defense, resigned late Thursday, Swedish time.
“The last weeks’ media attention became for me the straw that broke the camel’s back, if I may use that expression” Tolgfors said at a press conference. It was the radio news program Ekot that broke the news, about the confidential plans for Sweden’s Defence Research Agency to help Riyadh build weapons, including missiles and torpedoes, in early March. Sweden does not ban weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, but the secretive nature of the plans caused controversy, and the news have shaken the government and especially Tolgfors. There have been demands that he resign, and today Thursday, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt confirmed that Tolgfors resigns at his own request. Reinfeldt and Tolgfors apparently discussed the issue already in October last year, before the Saudi Arabia affair was revealed. The plan was, according to Tolgfors, to resign in a month, but the news leakage hastened his departure. Tolgfors said that another reason for his resignation was that being Secretary of Defense is a heavy duty, and that he feels he managed to implement the economic reform of the armed forces that was the goal. The last “piece of the puzzle” was put in last week and in connection with that, Tolgfors contacted Reinfeldt and asked to resign. He also added personal reasons; that his job has put a strain on him and his family.
Minister for Infrastructure, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, takes over temporarily and Tolgfors returns to the parliament. Ekot broke the Saudia Arabia news three weeks ago, and revealed that an FOI (totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut - Swedish Defence Research Agency) staff formed a so-called shadow company, called SSTI, to keep the project up. Tolgfors himself is said not to have known about this arrangement with SSTI until March 2010, when it was abandoned.
Minister for Defense, Sten Tolgfors, resigns after news broke of the scandals surrounding the weapon factory in Saudi Arabia.