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27 March, 2007 - Published 11:43 GMT

Guyana calls for reparations

Guyana's president Bharrat Jagdeo has called for European nations to pay reparations for the horrors of the slave trade.

President Jagdeo denounced as mere lip service, recent comments condemning slavery.

The Guyanese leader was addressing a commemorative ceremony for the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic trade in captive Africans.

Guyana's African Cultural and Development Association has for years requested that President Jagdeo add his voice to their reparations campaign, and for his government to sponsor a resolution in parliament, like Jamaica, calling for reparation.

Europe told there was an African holocaust

During the current commemorations Mr Jagdeo has been making it clear how he feels about the issue:

"Now that some members of the international community have recognised their active role in this despicable system, they need to go one step further and support reparation" President Jagdeo suggested.

Speaking to an audience that included the diplomatic envoys of Britain, the European Union and the United States, he pointed out:

"The international community was quick to recognise the Jewish holocaust, rightfully so. They must also now recognise that there was an African holocaust".

A call for prompt action

The Guyanese leader said their failure to act would reveal that their remarks on the horrors of the slave trade and slavery were "meaningless and platitudinous".

Britain's prime minister Tony Blair has expressed deep sorrow and regret for the UK's role in slavery, but stopped short of a full apology.

Bharrat Jagdeo said he was not celebrating Britain's passage of legislation 200 years ago on March 25, in 1807 abolishing the slave trade, but instead observing the struggle of slave revolts, church leaders and some abolitionists like then British MP William Wilberforce.