Sigrid Kaag resigns as Minister of Foreign Affairs over Afghanistan evacuation
This story was updated as more information became available.
Sigrid Kaag will step down as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She announced her resignation after the Tweede Kamer supported a motion of censure against her because of the chaotic evacuation process in Afghanistan. Kaag will continue her role as D66 leader, she said shortly after she announced her resignation in the plenary hall.
The motion was submitted by the PvdA during the Afghanistan debate on Wednesday, and was supported not only by the entire opposition but also by coalition partner ChristenUnie, which emerged on Thursday afternoon.
The motion of censure was directed against the entire Cabinet, but Kaag was explicitly named as having ultimate responsibility. In addition, a second motion of censure was passed against Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld (CDA), who will not resign. A vote of no confidence from the SP was rejected.
Kaag said there has been an "intense and intensive" debate about the evacuations from Afghanistan. She said she supports the efforts of the past period, but believes that she cannot continue in her position. She emphasized that the ministry will continue to work to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
"In my view on democracy and culture of our governance, the minister should go if the policy is disapproved," she said. Earlier this year when Prime Minister Mark Rutte was censured by the lower house of Parliament, Kaag also suggested she thought he should resign.
Kaag was not required to resign after being censured, but she said it is up to her to draw the conclusion. She had no opinion on Bijleveld's decision to stay on as minister. "These are my choices, everyone makes their own choice," she stated.
"Foreign Affairs was my passion, which you will have noticed," said Kaag in the Tweede Kamer shortly after a slim majority had supported the motion. She called it a great honor to have held the position. Kaag has asked the other ministers from D66 to remain in office. They will, said Kaag.
Kaag joined the Cabinet in October 2017 as Minister for Foreign Trade and Development. She became Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 24 of this year because her predecessor, Stef Blok, was shifted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Before entering politics, she worked in Syria and Lebanon for a number of United Nations organizations.
In her position leading D66 she has represented her party in the discussions about the formation of a new governing coalition in the Netherlands. Six months ago, Kaag led her party to a substantial victory in the general election, taking D66 from 19 seats up to 24.
The centrist party became the second largest party in the Tweede Kamer, behind Rutte’s VVD, which has 34.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times