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Reparations for Slavery on Track

September 3, 2001

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) _ African representatives have joined African-American activists in encouraging delegates at the World Conference Against Racism to adopt a final declaration that calls for an apology for slavery and colonialism and initiates reparations.

Since the conference began Friday, one African representative have given speeches blaming the slave trade and colonialism for the underdevelopment of their countries. Some demanded only apologies, while others wanted cash.

``Slavery should be remembered not only as an appalling tragedy, but also as a factor which, for centuries, deprived Africa of her human and natural resources,″ said Enoch Kavindele, the vice president of Zambia _ who is also representing the African Union, the successor to the Organization of African Unity.

He said the union ``calls for the establishment of an international compensation scheme for victims of the slave trade and a development restoration fund to provide additional resources for the development of countries affected by colonialism.″

Members of the U.S. Congressional Black Congress have attended the conference since it began on Friday, condemning President Bush for not sending Secretary of State Colin Powell, and demanding U.S. reparations for slavery.

``The treatment of blacks in (the United States) has historically been deplorable, and while steps have been made to better the racial climate, nothing as been done to compensate those who have been wronged in the process,″ Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a Georgia Democrat, said.

The Council of Europe announced Monday that its 43 nations had agreed to help fund a new African development program to help compensate for colonialism and slavery, but those funds would be provided outside the context of the racism conference.

The draft of a final declaration for the conference, which will end on Friday, includes five paragraphs calling for such reparations in one form or another. Two paragraphs call for explicit apologies for slavery and colonialism.

A consensus on a final draft has not been reached yet.

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