News24

Dutch queen to meet officials

2010-02-22 14:02

Amsterdam – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is to receive outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and several other government officials on Monday in the wake of this weekend's cabinet collapse.

The queen's participation is required for the transition between governments.

The meeting comes two days after Balkenende's government collapsed when the Labour Party refused to back fellow coalition members in supporting the extension of the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan, currently due to end in August.

For the government to be dissolved, the queen must officially accept its resignation, fix an election date, and appoint an interim government.

Following the meeting with the outgoing Prime Minister that is due to start at 08:30 GMT, the queen is also scheduled to receive outgoing Deputy Prime Ministers Wouter Bos (Labour) and Andre Rouvoet (Christian Union).

Further meetings

Finally, she is to meet with the chairpersons of the lower and the upper houses of parliament, and with the vice-president of the Raad van State, or State Council, the highest advisory organ to the government.

All meetings are due to continue until the late afternoon.

The deputy ministers of the Christian Democrats and the Christian Union are widely expected to take over the Labour ministries until the elections, which will probably be held in May or June.

The Netherlands currently has some 1 880 troops in Afghanistan, of which around 1 250 are stationed in the central province of Uruzghan. The mission began in 2006, was extended in 2008, and is due to end this August.

Outgoing governments cannot make high-impact decisions such as extending the mission's mandate. The date for the repatriation of the Dutch troops will therefore stand as scheduled, until and unless a new government is elected and decides otherwise in time.

NATO sent a request on February 4 to the Dutch government asking for an extension of their military contribution in Afghanistan.