Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld resigned on Friday over his handling of the Afghan evacuation crisis in a growing scandal that has also claimed the foreign minister’s job.
Bijleveld had originally refused to resign, but eventually gave in to pressure after parliament formally censured her over a debacle that has left dozens of performers stranded in Afghanistan.
“I informed my party and the prime minister that I will ask the king to receive my resignation,” Bijleveld told journalists at the Defense Ministry, referring to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“I don’t want to get in the way of the important work” of his colleagues who are still trying to get the people out of Afghanistan, he added.
Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag resigned on Thursday after she, too, was condemned by parliament for the government’s failure to evacuate some Afghans and for the absence of signs of an imminent Taliban takeover.
Kaag resigned immediately after the disapproval motions against both ministers were adopted. She defended her handling of the crisis, but admitted that the government had some “blind spots” about the situation that the Netherlands shared with other countries.
Bijleveld said at first that he would stay, but reconsidered a day later after strong criticism from members of his own Christian Democratic party.
Dutch ministers are some of the first Western officials to resign and take responsibility for the chaos between the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 15 and the withdrawal of US forces on August 31.
His resignations come after Britain’s Dominic Raab was deposed from his post as foreign minister for the way he handled the situation in Afghanistan.
However, the impact on the Dutch political system could be limited, as the current cabinet is an interim administration, and the country is still awaiting talks to produce a new coalition government six months after the elections.
Bijleveld is the sixth minister to step down since the Rutte government was toppled in a childcare subsidy scandal in January.