Dutch foreign minister quits over Afghanistan evacuations

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch foreign minister, Sigrid Kaag, resigned Thursday 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 Wednesday night, 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.

Don Ceder, a member of the 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. Dutch broadcaster NOS reported that Kaag said she would remain D66 leader and continue in the coalition talks.

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

Kaag’s resignation came a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of a Cabinet shake-up. Raab had faced criticism for delaying his return from a holiday in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan last month.
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