Prince Charles affirmed in Kigali on Friday, at the opening of the Commonwealth leaders' meeting, that member states were free to abandon the fold of the monarchy and expressed his “sadness” for the slavery past of Great Britain.
This summit (CHOGM) is being held in Rwanda, which joined the Commonwealth in 2009, at a time when the association with the 54 Member States is going through deep questions, in a period of transition for the British monarchy and questioning of the colonial past.
In 14 of the Member States, Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, and some of them have made no secret of their desire to distance themselves from the monarchy, in the wake of Barbados which has officially proclaimed a republic in November 2021.
“The Commonwealth has countries within it which have had constitutional ties to my family, some which continue to have them and increasingly which do not said Prince Charles, who represents his mother Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth.
“I want to make it clear, as I have said before, that the constitutional regime of each member, as a republic or a monarchy, is solely a matter for the decision of each member state”, he insisted, in front of dozens of leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The heir to the British Crown also acknowledged that the roots of the Commonwealth “run deep in the most painful period of our history”.
“I cannot describe the depth of my personal sadness at the suffering of so many people, as I continue to deepen my understanding of the lasting effects of slavery,” he said.
CHOGM stands amid controversy over a deal to deport illegal migrants from the UK to Rwanda, which has sparked outrage from numerous human rights NGOs, the UN and the Anglican Church.
According to the British press, Prince Charles also privately expressed his disagreement with this device, which he described as “appalling”. The British government has promised to persist with this deportation programme, which was blocked at the last minute on June 14 by a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The 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 prejudices about Rwanda which must be swept away”, he repeated on Friday to British media.
Boris Johnson praised the “giant strides” made by Rwanda, a small East African country which has experienced spectacular economic development since the end of the 1994 genocide. However, it is regularly criticized for its human rights policy.
Upstream of CHOGM, 23 NGOs recalled in an open letter their “serious concerns” on this subject.
At the same time, the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo had asked the United Kingdom to condemn Rwanda, which it accuses of “aggression” in eastern Congo and to support the armed group M23.
CHOGM, which is due to end on Saturday, is to see the integration of two new members, Togo and Gabon.
“New nations are looking to join, which shows how much you need to know about the health and vitality of our Commonwealth,” Boris Johnson said. p>
Jamaican Kamina Johnson Smith is challenging Britain's Patricia Scotland for the post of general secretary, despite a convention of the organization which provides that the incumbent must run unopposed for a second term.
Mrs. Johnson Smith, Jamaica's Foreign Secretary, has the support of the United Kingdom, which has publicly expressed its disapproval. contentment with the management of Mrs. Scotland who also has Dominican nationality.