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Panama Papers: Thousands Protest in Iceland After Prime Minister Refuses to Resign

The Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has come under pressure to resign his position since the publishing of documents from the Panama Papers.

Since the publishing of documents from the Panama Papers leak on Sunday, Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has come under intense pressure from opposition political parties and protestors to resign his position.

On Monday, thousands gathered outside the parliament building in central Reykjavik, banging drums and blowing whistles. The demonstration was held to call for elections following the Panama Papers revelations, according to Reuters.

Gunnlaugsson told Channel 2 on Monday that he had no intention of resigning, Reuters reports.

The files leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca showed that Gunnlaugsson’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, owned an offshore company with a claim of millions of dollars on the country’s collapsed banks.

The company, Wintris Inc, was bought by Gunnlaugsson and Pálsdóttir in 2007. Gunnlaugsson sold his half of the company to Pálsdóttir for $1 at the end of 2009, soon after his election to parliament.

He has never declared an interest in the company. Gunnlaugsson’s office says “it had always been clear to both of them that the prime minister’s wife owned the assets.”

Gunnlaugsson’s connection to Wintris is seen by his opponents as a conflict of interest, since his administration, in power since 2013, has been involved in making deals with claimants of some of those bankrupt banks.

“What would be the most natural and the right thing to do is that [he] resign as prime minister,” Birgitta Jonsdottir, leader of the Pirate Party, one of Iceland’s biggest opposition parties, told Reuters.

She added: “There is a great and strong demand for that in society and he has totally lost all his trust and believability.”

Opposition parties have said they will bring a motion of no confidence in the prime minister to parliament, although a no-confidence motion is thought to be unlikely to pass because the prime minister’s coalition holds 38 of 63 seats in the parliament.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding that Gunnlaugsson resign has reached 23,000 signatures, in a country that has a population of just 330,000.

More than 8,000 people said on Facebook that they would demonstrate in the capital. When the Icelandic economy collapsed in 2008 due to a financial meltdown caused by bad loans issued by its banks, protests drew 3,000.

The Prime Minister during the collapse, Geir Haarde, was forced to resign in January 2009.

Main image: Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland in 2014. Control Arms/Flickr/CC BY 2.0


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