Wara is the boss: Tor Mikkel Wara, out of politics for 25 years, is Norway’s third justice minister in three weeks

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Svalbard has its third boss in as many weeks and, unlike his vehemently anti-immigration predecessors, so far the most controversial thing is the fact he’s not in Norway’s national population registry.

Tor Mikkel Wara, once seen a rising Progress Party star in Parliament before leaving national politics in 1993, was appointed the new Minister of Justice and Public Security this week by Prime Minister Erna Solberg. He replaces Per Sandberg who was appointed March 20 “until further notice” to replace Sylvi Listhaug who resigned after writing a social media post accusing members of the opposition Labor Party of putting “terrorists’ rights” before national security.

As justice minister Wara has administrartive oversight of Svalbard, including determining its budget, at a time when the archipelago is facing significant economic, environmental, policial and security issues. For the past 25 years he has worked for a number of communications agencies, and for the past eight years as a partner and senior adviser for the business management consultant First House.

Claus Jørstad, head of the Progress Party in Finnmark, told TV2 the appointment was “very surprising,” but Wara is well-regarded in the region and is likely to put an emphasis on northern area issues and Norway’s relationship with Russia.

The appointment raised a bit of a stir when the organization Faktisk reported on its Facebook there is no Tor Mikkel Wara in the population registry. There is a Tor Mikkel Vara, which a ministry spokesperson said is a variation of the Finnish last name, but the new minister uses Wara because his father wrote it that way.

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