Cabinet stays in place, ends
expulsion of asylum seekers
14 December 2006 (second update)
AMSTERDAM–The caretaker Cabinet will remain in place and end the expulsion of long-term asylum seekers, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said shortly after midnight on Thursday.
The Christian Democrat CDA leader said expulsions will not occur if humanitarian reasons warrant an asylum seeker's continued stay. The decision will mostly affect refugee families with young children.
The suspension of deportations will remain be in place until a new cabinet is installed, after which the new government can legislate a general amnesty.
MPs pass no confidence motion against Verdonk
Balkenende also said Liberal VVD VVD-minister Rita Verdonk who had a motion of no confidence passed against her by MPs on Tuesday will hand over her immigration portfolio to Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin.
However, she will retain the integration portfolio. She will also be assigned responsibility for youth protection, crime prevention and rehabilitation.
The VVD ministers were initially opposed to the solution, but the party agreed at the urgent request of Balkenende to remain in the cabinet in the interests of the nation.
The Parliament will now debate the new situation late on Thursday morning.
The Cabinet had debated for the entire day the parliament's demands for Verdonk's resignation and its calls for a general amnesty for asylum seekers who entered the country prior to April 2001 and were still living in the Netherlands.
VVD leader Mark Rutte who had threatened that all VVD ministers would resign if Verdonk stood down said the party had only yielded to parliament's demands “because of the governability of the country”.
VVD Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm was also opposed to the decision and said it will attract a new group of asylum seekers to the country. He said in normal circumstances, VVD ministers would have resigned but the cabinet would have then entered unknown waters.