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President of Norwegian parliament resigns amid renovation controversy

Thursday, 8 March, 2018 - 18:49

The president of the Norwegian Parliament Olemic Thommessen, announced that he will resign from his position on Thursday amid a scandal over the soaring constructions costs of renovating the national parliament.

Thommessen was strongly criticised in recent weeks over the rising bill for the construction of a tunnel to access parliament and the renovation of an adjoining building. The cost for the works had doubled in three years to reach nearly 2.3 billion kroner (237 million euros), according to the latest estimates.

The local Norway reports that the Thommessen was criticised Last year by parliament for mismanaging the building work and for a number of irregularities related to it. The Office of the Auditor General of Norway also criticised the process and a motion of no confidence was called against Thommessen.

Thommessen’s fate depended on the Christian Democratic Party (KrF), which had been providing support for the ruling minority coalition in Parliament. “I have been informed that the Christian People’s Party has withdrawn its support (…) and I will naturally leave these positions,” Thommessen said in an address to Parliament, which he has chaired since 2013.

According to Norwegian media Parliament paid 116 different suppliers for various services during the course of the project.

Thommessen is not the first member of parliament to lose their job over the bloated construction project. Parliament director Ida Børresen left her post following the publication of the final costs last month.

Leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Knut Arild Hareide, blamed his party’s decision to withdraw its support for Thommessen on Mr. Thommessen’s failure to take sufficient account of the warning signals that had been sounded as early as June 2017 by the Parliament. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Labour Party, welcomed his departure. “I think he should have done it before, but he’s doing it now and it’s a good decision,” commented his boss, Jonas Gahr Støre