Former Dutch PM slams incumbent government on Iraq war

Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt on Friday criticized fellow party member and incumbent prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende for blocking an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dutch involvement in the Iraq war, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Van Agt, who served as Dutch prime minister from 1977 to 1982, said in radio program Argos that the new Dutch cabinet led by Balkenende is "putting a muzzle on Parliament."

Opposition parties led by the Socialist Party have been demanding an enquiry into the development of events which led to Dutch involvement in the Iraq war in 2003.

The 76-year-old former leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Appeal called on Balkenende not to stand in the way of debate.

"Better late than never," said Van Agt.

Van Agt criticized the Dutch involvement in Iraq in April 2004. He said at the time that Netherlands should withdraw as soon as possible. He said the war was being waged without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council and the presence of the Dutch troops in Iraq was illegal.

The Americans and British should never have invaded Iraq, he said, adding that U.S. President George W. Bush was disregarding international rule of law entirely.

Source: Xinhua



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