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Dutch foreign minister resigns over Kabul embassy evacuation

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September 16, 2021


10:56 pm

Sigrid Kaag resigned as Dutch foreign minister Thursday, after the parliament passed a motion of censure against her over her handling of evacuations from Afghanistan last month.

The Dutch embassy in Kabul had sent the government repeated urgent requests to prepare to remove staff from the country before it was fully taken over by Taliban militant forces. But the Cabinet did not make a decision on how and when to evacuate local staff members and their immediate relatives until shortly before the fall of Kabul.

Kaag faced heavy criticism over the chaotic evacuation process. She admitted Thursday that the Dutch Cabinet had acted on the basis of “wrong assumptions,” but said any mistakes made were not hers alone. The quick advance of the Taliban surprised everyone, “including the Taliban itself,” she said.

Despite this, Kaag said it was her democratic duty to step down after the lawmakers’ vote.

“The House has concluded that the Cabinet has acted irresponsibly,” she said. “I can’t do anything but face the consequences. A minister steps down when the policy is disapproved of.”

The parliament passed a similar motion of censure against Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld, but she will remain in office.

Dutch parties are still trying to form a new coalition government after an election in March, with long-time leader and current caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte vying to stay in office. Kaag is also the leader of the centrist D66 party, which came in second to Rutte’s conservative VVD in the election and has been closely involved in the coalition talks.

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