Tuesday 24 October 2017

Dutch defense minister resigns over peacekeepers' deaths in Mali

Dutch defense minister resigns over peacekeepers' deaths in Mali
(Reuters (Eng) 10/04/17)
Netherlands caretaker Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis looks on after announcing her resignation in the Dutch parliament, in The Hague, on October 3, 2017.

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch caretaker Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis said on Tuesday she was resigning after a report highlighted serious failures by her department during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The Safety Board last week issued its findings about an incident on June 6, 2016, when a mortar killed two soldiers and gravely injured a third. It concluded that the ministry had let safety and medical standards slip in favor of pursuing strategic goals.

Hennis announced her resignation during a parliamentary debate just days before the caretaker government is due to be replaced by a new coalition under Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Hennis said General Tom Middendorp, head of the armed forces of the Netherlands, would also resign in response to the Saftey Board’s harsh finding.

The Dutch, who initially provided Apache helicopter squadrons to the Mali peacekeeping mission, are winding down their contribution, with troop numbers expected to drop to roughly 300 this year.

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