IMF, World Bank Chiefs Hold Second Day of Talks with African Leaders

Published February 20th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

The heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, who have fielded criticism that debt reduction programs are fuelling poverty in Africa, went into a second-day of talks here with African leaders Tuesday. 

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said progress had been made on a number of issues during five hours of discussions Monday between 10 heads of state and IMF managing director Horst Koehler and World Bank president James Wolfensohn. 

Wade said African leaders revealed they had a "vision" for development on the impoverished continent. 

"There are countries practicing good governance and fighting against corruption," Wade said. 

But he also said that "some quarters," wanted the IMF to pull out of Africa and felt that World Bank interventions on the continent were "a waste". 

Koehler said armed conflicts, corruption, poor governance, and the AIDS epidemic were impeding development. 

"If armed conflicts are not stopped, there is no future, no development," he said. 

Issues being discussed here include debt reduction, macro-economic stabilization, human development problems, particularly HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, economic competitiveness and how to support economic growth. 

Before talks on Monday, Koehler and Wolfensohn were met by a band of noisy protestors here carrying banners reading: "Cancel debt for a better education", "IMF, World Bank = poverty = AIDS = catastrophe", and "World Bank/IMF assassinate our people". 

The two officials tried to reassure the demonstrators. 

"I know it is difficult, but we are here to help you," Wolfensohn said. 

Koehler, speaking through an interpreter, said he disagreed with the protesters' assessment of the debt crisis. 

"Debt is surely a problem, but you cannot say that it is a crime against humanity," Koehler said. 

The protesters included members of the Malian branch of Jubilee 2000, a global movement calling for the cancellation of the debt of the world's poorest nations, disagreed. 

Jubilee 2000 maintains that seven million children die each year as a result of the debt crisis, interest payments for which absorb vast amounts of money that could be spent on education, medicine and social programmes. 

Other African heads of state attending the summit along with Wade are Mamadou Tandja of Niger, Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, John Kufuor of Ghana, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro of Cape Verde, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria.  

They are being hosted by Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare, current head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

In the afternoon a second "summit" is to group Wolfensohn and Koehler with three presidents, Obasanjo, Mbeki and Bouteflika who were behind a "program of African renaissance for the millennium" presented at a recent economic meeting in Davos – BAMAKO (AFP) 

 

 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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