Swedish Cabinet Can Expect Hard Time From Tsunami Committee

The Swedish Riksdagen’s Constitutional Committee, which recently put prime minister Göran Persson on the spot, is ready to chastise the Swedish government for its failures following the tidal wave in south-east Asia.
Thursday the committee finished interrogations comprising part of the investigation which is to map the Swedish effort during the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in 2004. Afterwards, the writing on the wall was easy to read, as several members of the parliament said that is was clear that the investigation will result in massive criticism from the committee.
But it is still unsure whether or not the criticism will cost the jobs of one or several ministers. The investigation itself is not expected to finish before the end of March, but nothing new has appeared under the 20-hour long interrogations of the past days.
As many as 20,000 Swedes were vacationing in Southeast Asia at the time of the Indian Ocean tsunami, most of them in Thailand.
In the first days after the disaster the government failed to realize the scope of the tragedy and did not offer injured Swedes medical care, transport home or other assistance. 543 Swedes died.
Persson: “We did a good job”
The Swedish PM will not blame anyone for the late effort. Apart from acknowledging the lateness of the government’s response Persson thinks that they otherwise did a good job.
“There are most certainly examples of people who came up short. But to say that X or Y didn’t do what they were supposed to is not something that has crossed my mind,” Persson said.
The lateness of the effort was due to the fact that the information about the disaster was full of contradictions during the first 24 hours. Besides this, the level of personnel at the government’s offices was geared down because of Christmas, according to Persson.

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