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Swedish chief who resigned over pandemic holiday appointed to new role

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Dan Eliasson had resigned from his post as director-general of the Swedish Contingencies Agency.
Dan Eliasson had resigned from his post as director-general of the Swedish Contingencies Agency.   -   Copyright  Janerik Henriksson/TT via AP, FILE
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A senior Swedish official who resigned after ignoring his own agency's advice by taking a holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic has been appointed to a new advisory role.

Dan Eliasson has taken up the new position of Director-General of the Government Offices in Sweden, the authorities have confirmed to Euronews.

The official had previously served as the head of the Swedish Civil Protection Agency (MSB) but offered his resignation earlier this month after widespread criticism.

Eliasson had travelled to Spain's Canary Islands over Christmas to visit his daughter, despite Swedish government recommendations against foreign visits.

Although not against the law, Swedish citizens had expressed anger and indignation that a senior official had ignored his own agency's advice. In December, the MSB had sent text messages across the country, urging Swedes not to travel abroad.

Eliasson had stated that the trip was "necessary" and of "personal importance", but later requested to leave his position after the reaction from the public and other MSB officials.

"The important thing is how we as a society handle the pandemic and that all focus is on the incredibly important task," Eliasson said in a statement.

"The MSB as an authority should have the best possible conditions to carry out its important assignment".

But in a statement to Euronews, a spokesperson for the Swedish Government Offices' press service confirmed that Eliasson had been appointed to a new position after requesting a transfer.

"Heads of authorities have a fixed-term appointment and cannot be dismissed during an ongoing employment," the statement said.

"However, they can be transferred to another employment that is appointed in the same way, ie. by government decision."

The spokesperson also confirmed that Eliasson would retain the salary and period of employment on the transfer, although the Swedish government was not directly responsible for designating his new duties.

"He shall overall identify the areas where it is most important to review the legislation in order to be able to handle crises of varying nature and propose a process for continued work to produce proposals for changes in relevant regulations."

The senior official had been heavily involved in the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic in his previous position.

Sweden's parliament recently approved a new law that will give the government new, temporary powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.