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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Dutch government quits after row
Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk
Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is known for her hardline stance
The Dutch government has resigned because of an internal dispute about the Immigration Minister, Rita Verdonk.

Elections are being brought forward from next May, but Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende may be asked to stay in office as a caretaker.

A junior partner in the coalition, the centrist D-66 party, walked out after failing to get Mrs Verdonk sacked.

It objected to the way she had handled the citizenship case of a Somali-born Dutch MP, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The MP has been under police protection since a militant Islamist murdered Theo van Gogh, her collaborator on a film they made lambasting the treatment of women in Islamic society.

Mrs Verdonk threatened to strip Ms Hirsi Ali of her Dutch citizenship for lying in her asylum application in 1992.

But this week Mrs Verdonk did a U-turn, claiming she had found a legal loophole that would allow Ms Hirsi Ali to stay in the Netherlands.

Mrs Verdonk is known as "Iron Rita" for her tough stance on immigration issues.

Since admitting to lying in her asylum application, Ms Hirsi Ali has stepped down as an MP and plans a move to the US to work for a Washington think-tank.

Prime Minister Balkenende tendered the government's resignation to Queen Beatrix on Friday.

"I think we were doing really well with our reform policies," he said earlier.

"A lot was achieved over the past years, including results we can be proud of, one could see the progress that was made, and then it's a shame that a cabinet is brought down this way, through the actions of D-66."

Why the Dutch government has resigned

Profile: Ayaan Hirsi Ali
29 Jun 06 |  Europe
Country profile: The Netherlands
18 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Dutch ex-MP retains citizenship
27 Jun 06 |  Europe
Dutch MP lashed by asylum storm
16 May 06 |  Europe
Dutch MP defies Muslim pressure
24 Jan 06 |  Europe
Dutch MP plans third Islam film
15 Dec 05 |  Entertainment

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