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PvdA demands inquiry into Iraq war

3 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — Main opposition party Labour PvdA has demanded that the Dutch Cabinet reveal what it based its decision on to back the US-led invasion of Iraq. Labour is also urging the withdrawal of Dutch peacekeeping troops.

The party is demanding complete openness from the government about the manner in which it informed Parliament in the lead up to the war. PvdA leader Wouter Bos has repeated earlier calls for a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry.

Bos said on Sunday night “we must investigate this to the bottom” and pointed to inquiries held in the US and Britain about who knew what in the run-up to the war against Iraq. Such inquiries have raised doubts about the reasons for invading Iraq.

Both the US and British governments have been accused of failing to inform their Parliaments of alleged advice from intelligence agencies that there was inconclusive evidence Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The PvdA has previously demanded an independent inquiry into the Dutch government’s decision to give “political, but not military backing” to the March 2003 invasion, but this was rejected by a majority of MPs.

The Netherlands currently has 1,300 peacekeeping troops in the south of Iraq and Bos said recent comments from Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Defence Minister Henk Kamp indicate the mission will be extended beyond the scheduled July completion.
The opposition leader said the coalition government’s support of the war against Iraq needed to be debated in Parliament. He also said the PvdA was opposed to the mission’s extension and demanded the United Nations take command in the reconstruction of Iraq, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

The Dutch have so far been spared any military casualties in Iraq, but tension in the thinly-populated desert patrol region Al Muthanna has intensified recently.

Two Dutch bases were targeted by mortar grenade attacks last month, the last of which took place at Ar Rumaytah on the night of 29 April, but no injuries were reported.

Two Iraqis were killed in recent clashes with Dutch troops at roadside security checkpoints and the number of security patrols has been increased.

The Cabinet is due to make its decision whether to extend the peacekeeping mission or not on 14 May and Balkenende said eventual support from the PvdA was important, but not decisive.

The government has previously said it would seek broad support in Parliament about the mission and Balkenende said on Sunday he hoped the PvdA would remain open to debate. But if it refused, he said the cabinet would meet its responsibilities.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news