The senate is free to carry out its own research into the circumstances surrounding Dutch support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Tuesday evening.
In a debate with senators on the coalition agreement, Balkenende stressed that the new government had decided not to hold an inquiry. ‘It is up to the senate to take its own decision,’ Balkenende said.
The Labour party (PvdA) has long backed an inquiry but agreed to put its ambitions on ice during the cabinet formation process. The Socialist Party is still pressuring MPs to look into the issue.
Meanwhile, former Dutch military chief Hans Couzy has criticised Balkenende for opposing an inquiry by MPs. ‘I understand Balkenende does not want to lose face, but he cannot hide from the truth,’ Couzy says in magazine Vrij Nederland. Couzy was army chief between 1992 and 1996.
Balkenende is morally and democratically obliged to back an inquiry, Couzy says.
The Netherlands supported the invasion politically but did not contribute any troops.
more to follow
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