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3 February 2006
AMSTERDAM — Boris Dittrich announced his resignation as leader of the liberal democrat D66 party at a hastily arranged press conference on Friday afternoon.
Dittrich admitted he had made tactical mistakes and said this had to have consequences. "As political leader I have to be accountable and I expect that from others," he said.
D66 sources confirmed to news agency ANP before the press conference Lousewies van der Laan, one of the party's six MPs, will be the new leader. Dittrich will stay on as an MP.
Earlier on Friday Ageeth Telleman, the leader of the Amsterdam branch of the party, told Radio 1 news Dittrich had to go for the way he handled the party's opposition to the military mission to Afghanistan.
Acknowledging D66 had been humiliated, Telleman said: "I think it is really awful. I don’t say this with any pleasure but I think there is no other way."
A large majority in parliament voted late on Thursday in favour of contributing 1,200 troops to the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan. D66, the smallest of the three parties in the coalition government, voted against the mission. But Dittrich did not follow through on an earlier threat to pull his party out of government if it went ahead.
He admitted he had not been able to convince the party's two ministers not to sanction the mission. Dittrich said since he had not been able to win over the cabinet or parliament, his party would now stand 100 percent behind the troops.
The Amsterdam chairperson said that one must follow through if one threatens a crisis. Other branches of the party have also raised question marks about Dittrich's leadership.
Party chairperson Frank Dales called for Dittrich to be given time to evaluate the situation.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
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