Prince Charles says Commonwealth countries are free to give up monarchy

On Friday in Kigali, Prince Charles, at the opening of the Commonwealth leaders’ meeting, said member states were free to abandon the monarchy and expressed his “sadness” over Britain’s slave past.

This summit (CHOGM) is being held in Rwanda, which joined the Commonwealth in 2009, at a time when union with its 54 member states is in deep questions, in a period of transition for the British monarchy and questioning its colonial past. .

In 14 member states, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, some of whom have made no secret of their desire to distance themselves from the monarchy, following Barbados’ formal declaration of a republic in November 2021.

“Within the Commonwealth there are countries that have constitutional relations with my family, some of which they still maintain and some that increasingly do not,” said Prince Charles, who represents his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth.

He insisted in front of dozens of people, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

France Press agency

The heir to the British crown also acknowledged that the roots of the Commonwealth “stretch to the depths of the most painful times in our history”.

“I cannot describe the depth of my personal grief at the suffering of so many people, as I continue to deepen my understanding of the lasting effects of slavery,” he said.

Amid controversy over a deal to deport illegal immigrants from the UK to Rwanda, which has angered many human rights NGOs, the United Nations and the Anglican Church.

According to the British press, Prince Charles also privately expressed his disapproval of this device, which he called “appalling”. The British government has promised to continue this deportation programme, which was blocked at the last minute on June 14 by a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Prince Charles met Boris Johnson on Friday morning. But the British prime minister indicated that he would not detail the content of the interview.

“There are a lot of preconceived notions about Rwanda that need to be eradicated,” he repeated to British media on Friday.

Boris Johnson praised the “giant strides” made by Rwanda, a small East African country that has experienced stunning economic development since the end of the 1994 genocide. However, he is regularly criticized for his human rights policy.

At the start of the CHOGM meeting, 23 NGOs indicated in an open letter their “serious concerns” on the subject.

Meanwhile, the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has asked the United Kingdom to condemn Rwanda, which it accuses of committing “aggression” in eastern Congo, and of supporting the M23 armed group.

The meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which is set to end on Saturday, is set to witness the merger of two new members, Togo and Gabon.

“The new countries are looking forward to joining, and it shows everything you need to know about the health and vitality of our Commonwealth,” said Boris Johnson.

The summit is also expected to lead to a fierce competition for the leadership of the organization.

Jamaican Kamina Johnson Smith is challenging Britain’s Patricia Scotland for the position of Secretary-General, despite the organization’s agreement that the incumbent must run for a second term without opposition.

Ms Johnson Smith, Jamaica’s foreign minister, has the support of the United Kingdom, which has publicly expressed its displeasure with the administration of Ms Scotland, who also holds Dominican citizenship.

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