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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Resignation Throws Netherlands Into Spin

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Prime Minister Wim Kok faces parliamentary questions about his resignation over a report criticizing Dutch peacekeepers for failing to prevent the 1995 massacre of 7,500 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

Kok's government quit Tuesday, taking responsibility -- but not the blame -- for the peacekeeping mission that ended in a weeklong orgy of murder allegedly by Bosnian Serb troops under General Ratko Mladic, who remains at large.

Last week, an independent research institute issued a report cataloguing failures by Dutch government and military officials in a United Nations peacekeeping mission "with a very unclear mandate ... to keep the peace where there was no peace."

Kok resigned after several days of discord in his Cabinet. Opposition politicians wondered if he quit because of the report's findings or domestic political friction.

The National Institute for War Documentation report "heralds a new era of contacting relatives of victims and apologizing to them, but in that case it is good to know" why the government resigned, said Green Party member Paul Rosenmoeller.

Kok said the international community "is anonymous and cannot take responsibility" for botching its Bosnia peacekeeping operation. "I can and I do."

However, he said the Netherlands did not "accept blame for the gruesome murder of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in 1995, [only] partial political responsibility for the circumstances in which they happened."

Kok was continuing in a caretaker capacity until after next month's long-scheduled general elections.

The Srebrenica report said Dutch peacekeepers did little to prevent Serb forces from rounding up Muslims who had sought refuge at an area declared "safe" by the United Nations.

The Srebrenica massacre is the worst slaughter of civilians on European soil since World War II.

There will likely be a full parliamentary inquiry at which former ministers and commanders will be called to testify under oath. No date has yet been set.

"I see a parliamentary inquiry as an instrument to find the truth," said Ad Melkert, Kok's successor as Labor Party chief.

Survivors of the massacre spurned the Dutch government's decision to resign, saying key officials should have stepped down long ago over the affair.

"I want justice -- and it's not done by the resignation of ministers," said Hasan Nuhanovic, 30, a Bosnian Muslim who lost his parents and brother in the massacre. "I want to see justice done in the courts."

Dozens of other survivors also appeared frustrated by what they described as an insignificant political gesture. Sabaheta Fejzic, a 50-year-old Muslim mother angrily recounted how her son was dragged into a truck -- and never seen again.

"They should have resigned ages ago," she said of the Dutch officials. "They will never wash the guilt off their faces."