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Kuupik Kleist

Assumed office 
12 June 2009
Preceded by Hans Enoksen

Born 31 March 1958 (1958-03-31) (age 51)
Qullissat, Greenland
Political party Inuit Ataqatigiit

Jakob Edvard Kuupik Kleist (born 31 March 1958 in Qullissat) is a Socialist and Left-wing Greenlandic politician. He became the fifth Prime Minister of Greenland in 2009, the first from the Inuit Ataqatigiit political party.

The son of a Danish worker and a deaf Inuit woman, Kleist grew up with foster parents[1]. He attended primary school in Qullissat from 1966 until 1972 when the mining town was abanoned and then he attended lower secondary school in Sisimiut until 1975. When he was 17, he was sent to Denmark, alone and with no prior knowledge of Danish[1]. He attended the Birkerød State School in Denmark from 1975–1978. Kleist is a 1983 recipient of a diploma in social work from Roskilde University Centre. He taught journalism in Nuuk from 1988-1991.

In 1996, Kleist was appointed the Director of the Foreign Office of the Greenland Home Rule Government (Direktør for hjemmestyrets udenrigskontor). He was a Member of the Danish Parliament from 20 November 2001 to 13 November 2007, representing the Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party. IA will be the first party to govern the autonomous Danish territory under an expanded home rule agreement known as "self-rule" (selvstyre). While the self-rule agreement has been referred to a step towards eventual full independence from Denmark, Kleist's administration is expected to put "any push for independence [...] on the backburner", given his pledge to focus on social issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence and a high suicide rate.[2]

Since 2007, he has been the leader of IA, a leftist political party which works towards Greenland's eventual full autonomy from Denmark. The party received the most votes in the 2009 election. In June 2009 he was elected the 5th Prime Minister of Greenland, winning 5,461 personal votes against the 1,413 votes for incumbent Prime Minister Hans Enoksen[3][4][5]

In late August 2009 Kleist met with Admiral Tim Sloth Jørgensen and General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Denmark's Defence staff and the Chief of Canada's Defence staff.[6] Jørgensen and Walter Natynczyk were conducting a tour of Danish and Canadian military bases in the Arctic.


Political offices
Preceded by
Hans Enoksen
First Minister of the Local Government of Greenland


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