MPs admonish cabinet over Afghanistan information provision
The cabinet inadequately informed the lower house of Dutch parliament about the state of affairs in Afghanistan, a majority of parliament believes. The government received a slap on the wrist through a motion by ChristenUnie MP Don Ceder: it must "respect parliamentary democracy and deal with parliament in a decent manner, so that it can properly perform its constitutional task". Government parties CDA and D66 also supported the motion of their coalition partner.
The parties that supported the motion argued that the cabinet did not answer parliamentary questions in time. Some of these were submitted a month ago, but received no response until the debate on the matter this past Tuesday. During that debate, with cabinet members Sigrid Kaag (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ank Bijleveld (Minister of Defense) and Ankie Broekers-Knol (State Secretary of Justice and Security), questions were also not answered or insufficiently answered. The parties also criticized the fact that cabinet positions were shared with the press rather than with parliament.
The debate on Tuesday started with a clash between parties and the cabinet. GroenLinks MP Laura Bromet thought it was a sign of "little respect for parliament" that there were no answers yet and spoke of a "bad start to the debate". According to Bijleveld, the cabinet was busy "day and night" to manage the crisis in Afghanistan and the official support of the ministries was mainly concerned with this. This rubbed SP MP Renske Leijten the wrong way. Parliament already asked questions before the crisis broke out, said Leijten.
Later in the debate there was a confrontation between Broekers-Knol and committee chairperson Salima Belhaj (D66). MP Ceder asked questions to the caretaker State Secretary, but said he received no answer. He received support from Belhaj, who described Broekers-Knol's answer as a "linguistic exercise", implying that she was dodging the question. "I find that quite something," Belhaj said. According to the State Secretary, such an exercise was not her intention, but Ceder still did not receive a satisfactory answer. He concluded that parliament must receive answers to the questions it asks in order to be able to carry out its monitoring task.
Reporting by ANP