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Protesters in court ahead of G8

BBC News | July 5, 2005

Protesters arrested on Monday are appearing in court in Edinburgh as fresh protests get under way ahead of the G8 summit.

Live8 organiser Bob Geldof has called violent protesters "idiots" and said Monday's clashes were a side issue.

The summit starts on Wednesday, with climate change, global trade, aid for Africa and debt relief on the agenda.

African leaders meeting in Libya are planning to appeal to G8 leaders for full cancellation of Africa's debts.

In other key developments:

  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair opened a London business event, saying "the private sector is the engine for growth in Africa".
  • South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel questions G8 leaders' commitment to Africa as the continent does not pose a threat to their future or security.
  • UK Chancellor Gordon Brown said the summit will be a chance to bring the whole world together - but acknowledged to the BBC that campaigners might be disappointed with the results.
  • Breakthroughs have been reached on debt cancellation and aid ahead of the meeting, but progress has yet to be made on fair trade and climate change.
  • President Bush has said the US will not agree to a Kyoto-style deal on climate change as it will damage the US economy.

Protester anger

Police have been setting out their plans to ensure a peaceful protest in the town of Auchterarder, near the summit venue, on Wednesday.

Tayside chief constable John Vine said months of preparation had taken place for the march, which will be licensed for only 5,000 people. He said the police would take "robust action" if they encounter people who are prepared to break the law.

Earlier on Tuesday, there was a brief bomb scare in Auchterarder.

Group of eight major industrialised states, inc Russia
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, US
Originally set up to discuss trade and economic issues
Now leaders discuss global issues of the day
2005 Summit agenda
Climate change

In Edinburgh on Tuesday, three anti-poverty activists chained themselves to the top of a crane to highlight their objections to Mr Brown's promotion of free-market solutions for Africa.

About 150 environmental activiststs are staging a peaceful protest at an oil refinery in Grangemouth, about 30 kilometres from Edinburgh, while Friends of the Earth said campaigners would dress as mermaids to highlight the dangers posed by climate change

On Monday, demonstrators fought running battles with 1,000 police in Edinburgh. Nearly 100 protesters were arrested and are now appearing in court, facing charges related to breach of the peace, alleged drugs and weapons offences and obstructing the police.

It is unclear who caused the violence and while the police have been accused of using "heavy-handed" tactics, they insist their response was "proportionate".

One world?

For many, the meeting is a defining moment in current world politics, as an upswell of popular support is calling on the G8 leaders to make fundamental changes to the way rich countries deal with poorer nations.

"We have got to bring the whole of the world together. What Britain says is one thing; what we can persuade the rest of the world to do together is what we will get, is the outcome from Gleneagles," Chancellor Gordon Brown said ahead of the meeting.

Some breakthroughs have been made, with G8 nations agreeing to double aid for poor countries and offer 100% debt relief.

Other key topics are fair trade and climate change and leaders are also likely to talk about the impact of high oil prices and exchange rates on economic stability.

President George W Bush downplayed expectations over trade deals and climate change in an interview with ITV on Monday.

Five big developing countries will take part in the talks on climate change - China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Mr Bush said a deal on dropping its farm subsidies - which African states say is vital for fair trade - would only happen if the EU ditched its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).




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