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Stoltenberg presents cabinet shake-up

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Hekki Holmås, Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Audun Lysbakken, Bård Vegar Solhjell and Kristin Halvorsen gather after Friday's announcement (Photo: Kyrre Lien/Scanpix)
12:22 CET+01:00
Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Friday appointed three new ministers to the cabinet in a reshuffle prompted by upheavals in the Socialist Left party, a junior member in the three-party red-green coalition government.

“What’s happening today is a renewal of the government,” said the Labour Party prime minister.

“We’re getting in three new ministers with long experience from many other areas in politics and parliament,” Stoltenberg told reporters gathered outside the Royal Palace shortly before 11.30am.

In changes that have been widely publicized in recent days, the three Socialist Left (SV) politicians Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Bård Vegar Solhjell and Heikki Holmås were all welcomed to the government.

Thorkildsen takes over as Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion after new SV party leader Audun Lysbakken stepped down from the post amid a funding scandal.

Solhjell succeeds Erik Solheim as Minister of the Environment after Lysbakken this week ousted one of his predecessors as party leader from the post.

Holmås enters the government as Minister of International Development.

“These are people I know well and I’m looking forward to working with them in the government,” Stoltenberg said.

In a final switch, the Socialist Left’s last leader, Kristin Halvorsen received a broader portfolio as Minister of Education after the removal of Tora Aasland as Minister of Research and Higher Education.

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The reshuffle came especially at the expense of Solheim -- known internationally for his role as mediator in the since failed Sri Lanka peace negotiations -- who made no secret of his desire to continue as international development and environment minister.

Lysbakken resigned on March 5th after his ministry approved donations to a women's self-defence group that was at the time linked to his party.

The scandal has worsened the Socialist Left's haemorrhaging in the polls, something experts say explains its need to put forth new faces just over a year before the next general elections.

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