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AFP
July 1, 2020

Belgian king expresses ‘deepest regrets’ over DR Congo colonial past

World

AFP
July 1, 2020

BRUSSELS: Belgium´s monarch expressed his “deepest regrets” on Tuesday for colonial abuses in DR Congo, in an unprecedented gesture for his country that Kinshasa swiftly hailed as “balm” for the Congolese.

King Philippe made his remarks in a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, on the 60th anniversary of Congo´s independence on June 30, 1960. The death of African American George Floyd last month as he was being arrested by police in the US city of Minneapolis has also stoked fresh debate in Belgium over its colonial record. Belgium´s colonisation of the vast mineral-rich country was one of the harshest regimes imposed by European powers that ruled most of Africa in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The scars remain, with two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line and the country riven by conflict and instability. “I want to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past whose pain is reawakened today by the discrimination still present in our societies,” Philippe said. Historians say that millions of Africans from areas in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo were killed, mutilated or died of disease as they worked on rubber plantations belonging to Leopold II, king from 1865-1909.