Greenland foreign minister demoted after independence comments

COPENHAGEN: Greenlandic Prime Minister Mute Egede stripped a Frankish pro-independence minister of his responsibility for foreign affairs on Monday (September 27), following comments on excluding non-Inuit citizens from a future vote on the independence of Denmark.

Foreign Minister Pele Broberg suggested in an interview published in the Danish newspaper Berlingske earlier this month that only ethnic Inuit people and their descendants could be eligible to vote in a future referendum.

Broberg said a discussion was needed on the possibility of excluding ethnic Danes and other foreign nationals living in Greenland from participating in such a vote.

His comments prompted Egede, who took office in April after a snap election, to overrule Broberg in a public statement, making it clear that “all Greenlanders have the same rights.”

Egede will assume responsibility for foreign and climate affairs for Broberg, who will retain his duties as business and trade minister, state broadcaster KNR reported.

Broberg later said in a statement posted on Facebook that his comments had been misinterpreted and that all Greenlanders should be eligible to vote in a future independence referendum, regardless of ethnicity and culture.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 and is now a semi-autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Greenland has the right to declare its independence from Denmark, and although opinion polls show that the majority of Greenlanders are in favor of independence, there are disagreements about the timing of such a step.

The vast Arctic island of 57,000 people depends on fish exports and an annual subsidy from Denmark.

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