Greenland PM asks for leave amid investigation

After once accusing her predecessor of corruption, Aleqa Hammond is in hot water after an audit revealed she used a large sum of public money on herself.

Greenland PM asks for leave amid investigation
Aleqa Hammond is under investigation for the misuse of public funds. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix
Greenland Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond has applied for temporary leave while she is being investigated over the misuse of public funds, the Sermitsiaq newspaper said on Tuesday.
"The request will be discussed in (parliament) after Aleqa Hammond has finished her opening speech," the speaker of Greenland's parliament, Lars-Emil Johansen, told the daily.
Greenland is largely self-governed, and its former colonial power Denmark maintains control only over foreign affairs and defence policy.
A report from the parliament's audit committee on Friday showed that Hammond had used 106,363 Danish kroner (14,289 euros, $18,130) to pay for airline tickets for herself and hotel costs for her family.
The Social Democratic leader only repaid the money this month despite being reminded several times since April last year.
Her predecessor, Kuupik Kleist of the separatist Inuit Ataqatigiit party, said he would leave his party after admitting to using 25,034 kroner of public funds to pay for his own expenses.
Hammond herself accused Kleist of corruption and cronyism in 2010 after an exploration license was granted to a private company with links to government ministers' family members.
Hammond won an overwhelming victory in Greenland's elections in March 2013 on a ticket of increased independence for the vast Arctic territory, which has a population of just 57,000.
Denmark currently provides 3.2 billion kroner a year in subsidies to Greenland under an autonomy agreement that gives the country full control of its natural resources.

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Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

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