Dutch Parliament Censures Cabinet Over Afghan Evacuations, Foreign Minister Resigns

The Dutch parliament passed a motion of censure against the Cabinet over its handling of the evacuations from Afghanistan for Dutch allies, and the Dutch foreign minister resigned on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag acknowledged during a parliamentary debate Wednesday night that the Dutch government's slow or muddled response to warnings about the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan meant that some local staff and people who worked as translators for Dutch troops had not been evacuated.

Kaag immediately announced her resignation following a vote of no confidence from the lower house of parliament, which passed the motion of censure against the Cabinet on Thursday.

"Your chamber has decided the Cabinet acted irresponsibly," Kaag said. "I can only accept the consequences of this judgment as the minister with ultimate responsibility."

The Dutch military managed to evacuate about 2,100 to neighboring countries at the end of August, Reuters reported. However, hundreds of Dutch citizens and an unspecified number of Afghan allies who assisted Dutch troops or worked for nongovernmental organizations who were unable to reach the Kabul international airport in time were left behind.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Sigrid Kaag resigns
Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag announced her resignation following a motion of censure against the Cabinet by parliament. Kaag resigns at the House of Representatives in the Hague, on September 16, 2021, as minister and outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R) listens. Bart Maat/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

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 demoted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab 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.

Sigrid Kaag speaks
Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Sigrid Kaag resigned Thursday September 16, 2021, after a majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament supported a motion of censure against the government over its handling of evacuations from Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover. Peter Dejong, File/AP Photo