Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has bowed to increasing political pressure and set up an independent commission to investigate the Dutch government’s support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The commission will be led by former high court judge Willibrord Davids and may include government ministers.
Their task will be to look into the decision-making process of the cabinet in the period between the summer of 2002 and the summer of 2003, the prime minister said.
The commission will have access to all relevant documents including those of the intelligence, security and defence departments but may decide to present these parts of its findings confidentially.
In a statement, the prime minister says that he has decided to set up the commission because of the stream of parliamentary questions concerning Dutch support for the US action in Iraq.
Another factor that played a role in his decision is the cabinet’s needs to focus its time and efforts on the current economic crisis, said Balkenende.
The commission is expected to publish its report in November this year.
There has been growing speculation about events leading up to the Dutch decision to give political support to the US action in Iraq.
Balkenende, who was also prime minister at the time, has strongly opposed to an inquiry.
The coalition parties have reacted positively to the prime minister’s announcement but the opposition Socialists, GroenLinks, Liberals VVD and D66 do not feel the commission goes far enough.
They want a full parliamentary inquiry into the issue with witnesses heard under oath.
For an earlier investigation into the Dutch position in Iraq, click here
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