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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Opposition feels misled by Solberg

Several opposition parties in Parliament think Prime Minister Erna Solberg misinformed Parliament when she reported that work was on track to secure important buildings in Norway against terrorist attack. Their claims came after the state director of police testified at a hearing on Monday that the prime minister had “misunderstood” the police reports.

Odd Reidar Humlegård (left), director of Norway’s state police, was among those testifying at Monday’s all-day hearing on the state of security and preparedeness in Norway. At right, Knut Smedsrud, divisional director of police preparedness and crisis management. PHOTO: Stortinget

Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes, a Member of Parliament for the Socialist Left party (SV), reacted strongly to the testimony of Odd Reidar Humlegård, chief of the state Police Directorate (POD) at the hearing held by the Parliament’s disciplinary committee. Solberg has earlier said that POD had secured most “objects” around the country that deserve special protection.

Humlegård clarified on Monday, though, that “we didn’t report on the entire justice sector. Our reports were for the police, and applied only to the status of the use of security forces.” He also said that only about 20 percent of all objects have been given the “green” status indicating that preparedness goals are met.

Fylkesnes claims that means Solberg misinformed Parliament when she claimed that POD had reported “green” on the securing of objects needing special protection (including buildings and critical public infrastructure). A state auditor general’s report has since criticized Solberg’s government, claiming that it was way behind schedule on improvements to security and preparedness.

Humlegård disputed other parts of the state auditor general’s report, insisting the police and defense departments were now working well together and had a common understanding of their assignments regarding security improvements.

Fylkesenes was most concerned about the alleged misinformation: “We now have confirmation that Stortinget (the parliament) was misinformed,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), “That’s a violation of the constitution. It’s as serious as you can get. The Parliament hasn’t been under a delusion since the autumn of 2015.”

NRK reported that the leader of the committee, Dag Terje Andersen of the Labour Party, and the leader of the Reds Party, Bjørnar Moxnes, also think Parliament has been misinformed. Fylkesnes said he would wait until Solberg has had a chance to testify later this evening, before he decides whether to propose a vote on lack of confidence in her government when Parliament reconvenes in October. If it wins majority support, Solberg’s government could fall.

The hearing aims to determine how security and preparedness goals have been implemented and to assess the Solberg Government’s ability and willingness to keep Parliament informed when the work has proven to be more complicated and costly than expected. Berglund



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