20 Feb 2010

Dutch cabinet falls over Afghan row

The Netherlands' coalition government has collapsed after the two largest parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw Dutch troops from Afghanistan later this year, as had been planned.

The cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende, the prime minister, fell apart early on Saturday following 16 hours of talks in The Hague.

"Where there is no trust, it is difficult to work together. There is no road along which this cabinet to go further," Balkenende said.


Balkenende's centre-right Christian Democrat CDA, the bigger partner in the coalition, had suggested keeping a reduced force in Afghanistan for a year past the August 2010 deadline.

That was met with opposition from the Labour Party of Wouter Bos, the deputy prime minister.

Bos said: "A plan was agreed to when our soldiers went to Afghanistan. Our partners in the government didn't want to stick to that plan, and on the basis of their refusal we have decided to resign from this government."

Al Jazeera