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Former Dutch PM who resigned over Srebrenica dies

By AFP
media Former Dutch leader Wim Kok was hailed for his consensual style but resigned with his cabinet in 2002 after a report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre blamed The Hague for sending Dutch UN peacekeepers on a "mission impossible" to protect the enclave. ANP/AFP/File

Dutch politicians on Sunday paid tribute to former Labour Party prime minister Wim Kok, who resigned in 2002 following a scathing report into the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.

Kok, who died on Saturday aged 80, stepped down in April 2002 after an investigation by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation heavily criticised Dutch politicians over the role of the country's peacekeepers in the Muslim enclave.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serbs in July 1995 after the latter's forces took the enclave where Dutch peacekeepers were stationed in a UN "safe haven."

Heavily outnumbered, the troops withdrew and the government resigned in 2002 en masse in acceptance that more should have been done to prevent the atrocity.

"We remember Wim Kok with great acknowledgement and respect," current party leader Lodewijk Ascher said in a statement.

Kok was head of government from 1994 to 2002 before retiring from politics.

He was renowned for his "polder model" of politics which comprised developing economic and social policy on the basis of pragmatic, consensus-based decision making.

Kok, whose term of office saw strong growth, was an "example" for all, said current Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"He was at one and the same time architect and ambassador of the Dutch polder model for which he gained respect and international recognition," Rutte said in a statement, adding his compatriots "owe him much."

The French Socialist Party also issued a statement lauding Kok's achievements for "European Socialism in general."

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