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King Charles III says there "can be no excuse" for colonial abuses in Kenya

Britain's King Charles III, center, poses for a photograph with secondary school students during his visit to the Eastlands Library on Tuesday, October 31 2023 in Nairobi   -  
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Thomas Mukoya/AP


There can be "no excuse" for the atrocities committed against Kenyans during British colonial rule, King Charles III said on Tuesday in the East African country, but did not ask for forgiveness as some had demanded.

"Abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence were committed against Kenyans while they were (...) waging a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty. And for that there can be no excuse", the British monarch said at a state dinner hosted by Kenyan President William Ruto.

Charles III said he hoped to "meet some of those whose lives and whose communities were so badly affected" by colonial abuse.

"None of this can change the past, but by approaching our history with honesty and openness, we can perhaps demonstrate the strength of our friendship today and, in doing so, we can, I hope, continue to build an ever closer bond for years to come," he added.

This four-day visit, just a few weeks before the 60th anniversary of the independence of this former colony, is Charles III's first as King in a Commonwealth country.

This visit by the 74-year-old monarch and Queen Camilla (76) underlines "the strong and dynamic partnership between the United Kingdom and Kenya", according to the British embassy. But Buckingham also said that it would be an opportunity to discuss "the most painful aspects of the shared history" of the two countries.

One of the most deadly episodes was the Mau Mau revolt, whose repression by British colonial power left more than 10,000 people dead between 1952 and 1960. Thirty-two settlers were also killed.

In 2013, after years of legal proceedings, London agreed to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans who were victims of abuse during the Mau Mau uprising. After deducting legal costs, each received around £2,600 (€3,000). At the time, the British authorities expressed "sincere regret" for the colonial violence in Kenya.

But many Kenyan veterans' and human rights organisations expect more.

The Kenyan Human Rights Commission (KHRC) on Sunday called on "the King, on behalf of the British government, to make an unconditional and unequivocal public apology (...) for the brutal and inhumane treatment inflicted on Kenyan citizens throughout the colonial period" between 1895 and 1963. The KHRC has also called for reparations.