Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop has been refused an entry visa by the Sudanese government just days before he was due to visit the country, reports Tuesday’s Volkskrant.
The Sudanese have not given a reason, but the Dutch government suspects it is a reaction to Geert Wilders’ anti-Koran film Fitna, says the paper.
A top civil servant involved with the lengthy plans for the visit told the Volkskrant that the film was the obvious reason, although ‘the Sudanese will not say so to our face’.
Van Middelkoop planned to visit Dutch soldiers who are taking part in the United Nations’ mission to police the peace accord between the Islamic north of the country and the mainly Christian south, and to have talks with Sudanese authorities. The Dutch government decided last Friday to extend their stay.
Plans for the minister to travel on to Ethiopia and Burundi have also been cancelled, says the Volkskrant.
A few weeks ago Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir called on his countrymen to boycott Danish products, companies and organisations in protest at the Danish cartoons showing Mohammed.
The Netherlands and Denmark are among the most important aid donors to Sudan, says the Volkskrant. The Netherlands donates €140m a year. The Dutch government also contributes to the African Union’s peace force.
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