Dutch government resigns

The Dutch prime minister has officially tendered his government's resignation a day after a junior coalition partner quit in a row over the country's immigration minister.

    Balkenende as he goes to submit the resignation

    On Saturday, the general affairs ministry said the Netherlands will hold national elections in November after the collapse of Jan Peter Balkenende's centre-right government.

    Balkenende formally handed in the resignation on Friday to Queen Beatrix, the head of state, the royal information service announced.

    The government fell late on Thursday after the small D66 party withdrew its support in opposition to Rita Verdonk, immigration minister, over her handling of the controversy surrounding the citizenship for Somali-born Islam critic and former politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    After initially revoking Hirsi Ali's citizenship over claims that she lied about her name in her asylum application, Verdonk later did an about-face and, on a technicality, said she could remain a Dutch citizen.

    But six weeks of debate over the immigration minister's stance had done its damage.

    The Dutch press on Friday put the blame for the government's collapse on Balkenende, for failing to rein in Verdonk and control his coalition.

    SOURCE: AFP


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