Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Norwegian government could collapse after repatriation of ISIS suspect

Right-wing Progress Party is quitting coalition, withdrawing its seven ministers

Siv Jensen's Populist Party is part of the four-member coalition. AFP
Siv Jensen's Populist Party is part of the four-member coalition. AFP

Norway’s coalition government was at risk of collapse on Monday after its finance minister quit following the return of a suspected ISIS member and her two children, one of whom was very sick, from Syria last week.

The resignation of Siv Jensen and her right-wing Progress Party means Prime Minister Erna Solberg does not have a parliamentary majority.

The Conservative Party member, who leads the four-party coalition, is expected to remain in office and lead a minority coalition. She has defended the return of the child, saying concern for their health was “paramount”.

“I brought us into government and I’m now bringing the party out,” Ms Jensen said.

“Many believe she used her child as a shield to come back to Norway. There are many in Norway who are displeased by this, not just in the Progress Party."

Ms Jensen said there had been “too many compromises” but she wanted to speak with Ms Solberg in the future.

She departs with six other Cabinet members from her party.

Ms Jensen's party is angry at the move to help bring back the suspected female ISIS member from Syria so that one of her children could receive medical treatment.

The member, who left Norway in 2013 and is Norwegian-Pakistani, was arrested on her return.

The populist Progress Party had offered to help the children but were angry at giving government support for adults wanting to come back to Norway.

Ms Jensen recently admitted that the government looked “grey and dull”.

Norway’s constitution does not allow early elections, and the next vote for Parliament will take place in September 2021.

All four parties in Ms Solberg’s coalition struggle in the polls, including Progress, which is stuck at about 10 per cent support down from more than 20 per cent a decade ago.

There are believed to be more than 12,000 foreigners languishing in camps in Syria.

Decisions on whether to help women with ISIS ties return from Syria has caused controversy in Europe, including Finland, where the recently appointed government settled on a compromise to decide on each case individually.

Britain has repatriated a handful of orphans of ISIS members but has refused to being back any adults.

Last December, Denmark announced it would not allow the return of about 30 children whose parents travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS.

Updated: January 21, 2020 03:33 AM

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