Dutch foreign minister quits over handling of Afghanistan evacuation

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Sigrid Kaag speaks at the House of Representatives in the Hague, on September 16 (ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
Sigrid Kaag speaks at the House of Representatives in the Hague, on September 16 (ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

The Dutch foreign minister resigned on Thursday after she was censured over the government’s handling of evacuations from Afghanistan.

In a parliamentary debate Wednesday night, Sigrid 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 Thursday, Kaag immediately said she would tender her resignation, saying that 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 added.

It comes after former British foreign secretary Dominic Raab refused to resign over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

On Wednesday Boris Johnson demoted Raab, who was widely condemned across the political spectrum for delaying his return from a holiday in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan and amid claims he failed to personally intervene to help get Afghan interpreters out of the country.

Don Ceder, a member of the Dutch faith-based Christian Union, said in a statement earlier Thursday that the party supported the motion against Kaag and a similar one against Defense 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 that is in power amid drawn-out negotiations to form a new ruling coalition following a general election in March.

Kaag, who leads the centrist D66 party, has been closely involved in those talks along with 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 those negotiations.

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