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Dutch defence minister also resigns after failed Afghan evacuation

After the resignation of Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, the country's Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld has also stepped down on Friday.

After the resignation of Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, the country’s Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld has also stepped down on Friday.

The resignations came after harsh criticism from parliament over the failed Afghanistan evacuation. Kaag had already resigned on Thursday.

The Dutch parliament had previously blamed both ministers for the failed evacuation of Afghan staff from Kabul.

Governments worldwide scrambled to airlift their citizens and local staff from Kabul after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan a month ago.

After hotly debating the failures of the Afghanistan evacuation, the Dutch parliament adopted two censure motions.

Kaag resigned immediately, but her Christian Democratic colleague Bijleveld initially decided to remain in office.

Kaag was only acting minister and had only been in the post since May. A new coalition government has not yet been formed since the parliamentary elections in March.

“The parliament judges that the cabinet acted irresponsibly, so I can’t do anything other than accept the consequences,” Kaag said.

It is unclear what political consequences this step will have for the formation of a government.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his regret on Friday after Kaag’s resignation.

Rutte said he has great respect for her and her decision. “I think it’s really terrible,” he said.

Rutte headed to London on Friday for talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was originally due to be accompanied by Kaag, for whom no successor has yet been appointed.

Rutte and Kaag had been planning to meet the Christian Democrats during the weekend for exploratory talks about forming a minority government.

Rutte’s centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) emerged as the winner of the March parliamentary elections, followed by Kaag’s social liberal Democrats 66 (D66).

At least four parties will be needed to form a majority coalition.

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