Dutch foreign minister resigns over Afghanistan debacle

The foreign minister of the Netherlands, Sigrid Kaag, has resigned after the lower house of parliament passed a motion of censure against the government over its handling of evacuations from Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover.

In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Kaag acknowledged that the government’s slow or muddled response to warnings about the situation in Afghanistan meant some local staff and people who had worked as translators for Dutch troops in the country had not been evacuated.

After the motion was passed on Thursday, Kaag immediately said she would tender her resignation, saying parliament had decided “that the cabinet has acted irresponsibly”.

“I can only accept the consequences of this judgment as the minister with ultimate responsibility,” she said.

Earlier on Thursday, Don Ceder, a member of the faith-based Christian Union party, had said it supported the motion against Kaag and a similar one against the defence minister, Ank Bijleveld – a move that secured majority backing for the censures.

Ceder said the government “failed to show decisiveness, to show compassion, to pick up on signals and ultimately to take responsibility for people for whom we bear responsibility”.

Kaag was a minister in a caretaker Dutch government in power amid drawn-out negotiations to form a new ruling coalition following a general election in March. The leader of the centrist D66 party, she has been closely involved in those talks along with the caretaker prime minister, Mark Rutte, whose conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy won the most seats in the election.

It was not immediately clear what effect her resignation would have on the negotiations. The Dutch broadcaster NOS reported that Kaag said she would remain D66 leader and continue to participate in the coalition talks.

In her resignation speech, she said D66 ministers would remain in the caretaker government.

It came a day after the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, demoted his foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, as part of a cabinet shake-up. Raab had faced criticism for failing to return immediately from his holiday in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan last month.

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