REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) – Iceland’s fisheries and agriculture minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson said Wednesday he will seek the president’s approval to become the country’s next prime minister after the previous leader resigned because of revelations he had offshore accounts.
Johannsson said Iceland’s center-right governing coalition remains intact despite the turmoil that started Sunday after a massive leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm showed it created offshore accounts for Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife. Gunnlaugsson stepped down two days later.
Johannsson is expected to meet President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson Thursday, but the opposition opposes the move and is planning to pursue a vote of no confidence in parliament.
“We will still push forward a proposal to dissolve parliament and hold earlier elections,” said Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, a legislator with the Pirate Party, which has high popular support.
Opposition lawmakers have said Gunnlaugsson’s offshore accounts revealed a significant conflict of interest with his official duties. They now accuse the government of trying to cling to power.
Earlier Wednesday, hundreds of people staged a noisy protest in the rain outside parliament in Reykjavik – the third consecutive day of demonstrations calling for a new government in the North Atlantic island nation.
Gunnlaugsson has denied wrongdoing. His center-right Progressive Party is in a coalition government with the Independence Party.
Arni Pall Arnason, leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, said the two parties in the governing coalition are desperately trying to hang on to power without public support.
“What I think the government parties are trying to do is to cling onto power while doing the absolute minimum of changes in order to escape the public,” he said. “The government doesn’t want to confront the issue or face the public.”