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Cabinet shuffle

February 23, 2010

Danish Defense Minister Soren Gade has resigned from his post, leading Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to shuffle his cabinet and give Denmark its first female defense minister.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen
Rasmussen has been in power since April 2009Image: AP

Denmark's center-right coalition government, which has recently seen slipping approval ratings, announced a major shuffle of cabinet ministers on Tuesday morning following the resignation of Soren Gade as defense minister.

Gade said he would resign after nearly six years in office, largely due to controversy surrounding a book published in September by a Danish soldier who had served in Afghanistan. The military tried unsuccessfully to block the book's publication, claiming it revealed sensitive information.

"During the past six months too much focus has been on me," Gade said late on Monday in a statement.

New positions

Soren Gade with colleagues in Afghanistan
Gade, center-left, has been caught up in controversyImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Only three ministers, including the Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen, kept their previous posts. Apart from Gade, five other ministers left cabinet.

Rasmussen named 41-year-old Gitte Lillelund Bech of Rasmussen's center-right Liberal Party as Denmark's new defense minister. Bech, who was first elected to parliament in 1999, is the first female to hold the position.

Lene Espersen, leader of the Conservative Party and current minister of economic and business affairs, is to become the new foreign minister. He replaces veteran Per Stig Moller, who is to become culture minister. Espersen's vacancy as economics minister is to be filled by Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen.

The shuffle was the largest change in the minority coalition government since Rasmussen came to power in April 2009. He replaced former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who left the post to become NATO secretary general.

Editor: Chuck Penfold