BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Dutch MPs debate cabinet resignation
Wim Kok leaves parliament after announcing the resignation of his government
Wim Kok (centre): His resignation sends a message
The Dutch parliament is meeting on Wednesday to decide how the country should be run, after the shock resignation on Tuesday of the entire government.

Prime Minister Wim Kok and his cabinet quit less than a week after an official report on the Srebrenica massacre held the Dutch Government partly responsible for failing to protect the victims.

The international community is anonymous and cannot take responsibility... I can and I do.

Wim Kok

A general election which had already been scheduled for 15 May is expected to go ahead as planned, and the cabinet is expected to run the country in a caretaker capacity until then.

Mr Kok said he was standing down to take responsibility for what had happened.

The international community "is anonymous and cannot take responsibility", he said. "I can and I do."

The report published last week accused ministers of giving the task of protecting Srebrenica to lightly-armed and ill-trained Dutch peacekeepers, with no clear mandate.

Poster showing names of Srebrenica victims
Names of victims: Up to 8,000 men and boys were killed

It also criticised senior military figures and the United Nations itself.

Up to 8,000 men and boys were killed when Serb forces overran what was supposed to be a United Nations safe area.

Wednesday's parliamentary session is expected to approve a caretaker government made up of the same centre-left parties.

But it will mean a certain level of paralysis until the elections, with a number of issues left hanging.

Tough campaign

Mr Kok had already decided not to run for prime minister again.

The effect of the mass resignation on Dutch voters remains to be seen.

The left-wing coalition, which had been running the country since 1994, had already slipped in popularity.

The coalition parties include Mr Kok's PvdA Labour party, the free market liberals of the VVD and reformist D66 parties.

Commentators are predicting a tough election campaign which will now begin early.

"Competition between the major (coalition) parties will become stronger now that they are free to fight each other in the run-up to the elections," said Alis Koekkoek, professor of constitutional law at Tilburg University.

Some opposition politicians have also questioned whether friction between the parties might have been the real reason for the mass resignation.

And far right newcomer Pim Fortuyn criticised Mr Kok for resigning, saying he was "walking away".

The BBC's Chris Morris
"The Netherlands tried to help in Bosnia but it failed"
Liberal MP in Holland, Oussama Cherribe
"Dutch politics is based on a high moral standard"
See also:

10 Apr 02 | Europe
Srebrenica blame 'must be shared'
10 Apr 02 | Europe
Srebrenica report: Excerpts
02 Aug 01 | Europe
Q&A: Srebrenica massacre
10 Apr 02 | Europe
Identifying Srebrenica's victims
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories