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Norway's Labour-led cabinet takes office in day overshadowed by attack

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By Reuters
Norway's Labour-led cabinet takes office in day overshadowed by attack
Norway's Labour-led cabinet takes office in day overshadowed by attack   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

OSLO – Norway’s new centre-left government formally took over power on Thursday after winning elections last month, though the ceremony was overshadowed by a deadly bow-and-arrow attack in the town of Kongsberg.

A 37-year-old Danish citizen is suspected of killing five people in a rare incident of mass killing in Norway, police said.

“What we’ve learned from Kongsberg bears witness of a gruesome and brutal act,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement to news agency NTB.

A minority coalition of the leftwing Labour Party and the rural Centre Party took power after beating the ruling Conservative-led government in the vote for parliament.

While climate change was a major issue debated during the election campaign, Labour has said it wants to ensure any transition away from oil and gas, and the jobs it creates, towards green energy is a gradual one.

The country will continue to explore for oil and gas in the next four years, the new government said while presenting its policy plans on Wednesday.

Stoere named Labour’s Marte Mjoes Persen as minister for petroleum and energy.

Mjoes Persen, until recently the mayor of Norway’s second city Bergen, will thus be in charge of energy policy for western Europe’s top oil and gas producing nation.

Centre leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum will be finance minister in the government, which is headed by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.

Two survivors of the 2011 mass shooting on Utoeya island will for the first time sit in the country’s government – Tonje Brenna, who will be education minister, and Jan Christian Vestre, the new industry minister.

“We have two ministers who were on Utoeya,” Stoere told reporters on Thursday before he would meet King Harald to present his cabinet.

“For us the sound and the expression of a new political generation is an inspiration. When these great politicians have this background, this shows we have come a long way and I am very proud of that.”