MPs back commission to probe Iraq War support
The Dutch Parliament voted for an independent investigation on the war in Iraq.
THE HAGUE—Parliament has voted to support the institution of an independent commission to investigate the Netherlands' support for the war in Iraq, despite vociferous opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry. Prime Minister Balkenende says parliament will still be free to hold an inquiry after the commission—to be headed by lawyer Willibrord Davids—has reached its conclusion in nine months time.
Balkenende expressed his confidence in the Davids Commission, and denied that it would be less probing than a parliamentary inquiry. He said people might in fact be inclined to speak more freely in front of Davids.
The investigation comes in response to concerns about the way Balkenende's government reached its decision to support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The opposition on both left and right has been highly critical of the institution of the Davids Commission instead of a parliamentary inquiry.
Conservative VVD leader Mark Rutte said an inquiry would prove inevitable and agreed with other parties that the commission was sidelining parliament. Green Left leader Femke Halsema said the government had "muddled" the Netherlands into the Iraq War, and described the institution of the Davids Commission as being politically motivated.
The parties in the governing coalition—the Christian Democrats, Labour Party, and Christian Union—backed the cabinet line.