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Norway’s Leader Extends Sick Leave

September 12, 1998

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Norway’s prime minister, who has been on sick leave due to depression since the end of last month, extended his absence Saturday for a second time.

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is getting better every day, but his doctor decided he needs more time to recover, said a statement from his office.

Bondevik first took leave on Aug. 31 for a depressive reaction due to overwork, just as the three-party minority government he leads was set to start difficult budget negotiations.

Last Sunday, Bondevik extended his original one-week leave for another week. Saturday’s statement said Bondevik would be back at his desk on Sept. 24, before Parliament convenes a week later.

In his absence, acting Prime Minister Anne Enger Lahnstein has presided over budget negotiations. The government’s budget proposal will be presented to Parliament on Oct. 5.

Bondevik’s sick leave came just as Norway’s economy was souring because of low oil prices, fallout from the Asian crisis and a perception that his government was weak.

Deputy Conservative Party leader Inge Loenning said the fact that Bondevik’s doctor set a date for the leader’s return means he is getting better.

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