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London Churchill statue to be uncovered before Macron visit
Workers remove the boards protecting the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill from vandalism during anti-rascism portests, ahead of the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Parliament Square, central London on June 17, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP.



LONDON (AF).- The London statue of British wartime leader Winston Churchill that was controversially boxed up after anti-racism protests will be uncovered for a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, the mayor's office said Wednesday.

"The covering around the Winston Churchill statue will be removed for the visit of President Macron to London," said a spokesman for mayor Sadiq Khan.

Other monuments to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, and the Cenotaph war memorial were covered up in the wake of protests at the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in the United States.

The protection was put in place before a counter-demonstration last weekend, which saw far-right protesters fight running battles with the police.

Churchill's statue became a target when it was daubed with graffiti branding him a racist because of his policies at the time of a 1943 famine in the Indian state of Bengal that left millions dead.

The Cenotaph was also targeted.




The boards around the Cenotaph were taken down on Monday but the coverings around the statues of Mandela and Gandhi will stay in place "under review", said Khan's office.

Macron's visit coincides with the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle's appeal to the French people, calling on them to resist the German World War II occupation of France.

A statue of the wartime French resistance leader was also recently targeted in the northern French town of Hautmont.

The defacing of Churchill's statue and subsequent covering up sparked outrage in Britain, particularly from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has written a biography of his predecessor.

Johnson has said he "will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better."

He told parliament on Wednesday that "we are looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorials".

Reports have suggested long prison terms for the worst offenders.

© Agence France-Presse










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