High-profile Dutch asylum case still uncertain

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The future of 18-year-old Angolan asylum seeker Mauro Manuel is still uncertain despite hours of debate in the Dutch parliament and crisis talks within the CDA Christian Democrats, the junior partner in the minority government coalition.

Mr Manuel came to the Netherlands as an unaccompanied asylum seeker when he was 10, and grew up with a Dutch foster family. Asylum Minister Gerd Leers’ recent decision to repatriate him was greeted by a storm of protest.

A CDA compromise motion, which would have allowed him to stay for another four years on a temporary student visa, suffered a surprise defeat. The conservative VVD, the senior partner in the coalition, and the Freedom Party PVV voted against it.

The anti-immigration PVV has an agreement to support the minority coalition from parliament on most issues.

Opposed views Opposition parties want the young man to be allowed to stay in the Netherlands. They have now put forward a motion for him to be given a residence permit; after a debate that lasted into the early hours of Friday morning, it was decided that the vote on these and other motions would be held over until the next meeting of the Lower House on Tuesday. This means that the vote will come after the CDA’s congress on Saturday, where party members could seal the fates of both Mauro Manuel and the entire minority cabinet.

A majority of CDA members are in favour of Mr Manuel being given a residence permit on compassionate grounds. Most CDA MPs, however, have sided with the minister. It is expected that Saturday's party conference will see grassroots activists trying to win over MPs to vote against the government and in favour of granting asylum seekers in Mr Manuel's position a residence permit. This would solve the Mauro Manuel case, but could also trigger a political crisis in The Hague.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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