Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dutch Second Minister Resigns Over Afghanistan Evacuation Scandal | Asia News

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Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld resigns after censorship in parliament that also prompted the Foreign Minister to resign.

The Dutch defense minister resigned over the government’s handling of the Afghanistan evacuations, and announced her move a day after the Netherlands foreign minister resigned.

Both high-profile figures were accused by lawmakers of being responsible for the government’s slow response to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and for the confusing management of evacuations.

Ank Bijleveld, who revealed his departure from office on Friday, had initially refused to resign, but reconsidered after strong criticism from members of his own Christian Democratic party.

“I wanted to finish our mission to bring those who are still in Afghanistan and who are counting on us to safety,” Bijleveld said.

“But my position has become a topic of discussion and I don’t want to hinder the important work of the people who work for me.”

Bijleveld and Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag were censored by the Dutch Parliament on Thursday. The couple was criticized for failing to prepare the safe passage of thousands of Afghans who may have been eligible for asylum in the Netherlands after the Taliban takeover.

Kaag resigned Thursday night, immediately after the disapproval motions against both ministers were passed.

He had previously defended his handling of the crisis, but acknowledged that the government had “blind spots” on the situation.

Kaag said the flawed official response meant that some of the local staff and people who had worked as translators for Dutch troops in Afghanistan had not been evacuated.

Dutch ministers are some of the first Western officials to resign and take responsibility for the chaos between the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 15 and the withdrawal of US forces on August 31.

Their resignations come after Dominic Raab of the UK was deposed from his post as foreign secretary in a recent cabinet shakeup. Raab had been widely criticized for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan.

However, the impact of the departures of Bijleveld and Kaag on the Dutch political system could be limited.

The country’s current cabinet is an interim administration, following the overthrow of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government amid a childcare subsidy scandal in January.

Rutte and Kaag’s efforts to form a new government have stalled after the general election six months ago in the wake of political furor.

Rutte’s conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy won the most seats in the poll.

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