Prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde announced at a press conference today at noon that doctors have diagnosed him with esophageal cancer. It was also announced that he will not seek reelection as chairman of the Independence Party, that the party supports elections on May 9, and that the party’s national convention will be postponed until the end of March. Mbl.is reports.
According to Haarde’s statement, a small growth was found in the PM’s esophagus during a routine medical examination. Last Tuesday he was informed that the growth was found to be malignant. His doctors have recommended that he undergo a procedure to have the growth removed.
“Such a procedure can not be performed in Iceland, so it will be performed abroad shortly after the end of the month,” PM Haarde said in his announcement. “I am optimistic that I will overcome this disease and am told that the prospects for recovery are very good. Therefore, I can expect to a full return to work in the coming months at the soonest. However, one cannot rule out that this matter may make a turn for the worse in the long term.”
In light of this development, PM Haarde has decided not to seek reelection as Independence Party chairman at the next national convention.
The prime minister also announced that, because it is likely that parliamentary elections will be held in the spring, the Independence Party has decided to hold its national convention on March 26-29. At this meeting the party will form its new platform and elect a new chairman to lead them into the coming elections.
This news comes in the wake of an announcement in September 2008 that Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, chairwoman of the Social Democratic Alliance (which forms the coalition government with the Independence Party), was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Gísladóttir is currently in Stockholm, Sweden recovering from a procedure to remove the growth.
Copyright of photo: Icelandic Photo Agency.