African Leaders to Push for Debt Relief at
The G8 countries of the US, Britain, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia are to meet from July 21-23 for their annual
summit. This year it is taking place on the southern Japanese island of
The South African President Thabo Mbeki has left for Japan
in order to push the Group of Eight for relief on the enslaving debt that the
African countries are shackled with to the industrialised countries. Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are to
join Thabo Mbeki in this campaign.
A spokeswoman for President Mbeki said, "Their agenda
will look at setting up some kind of mechanism whereby countries of the south
can contribute to decision-making on what impacts on them, and that includes
debt relief and the transfer of resources."
The leaders will have just two hours to put their case to
the G8, who are expected to focus on debt rescheduling to Russia rather than
the African nations. A year ago, the G8 announced a $100 billion package of
debt relief by the end of this year for the over 40 countries who are the
poorest in the world, most of which are in Africa. However, hardly any money
has been released so far. The IMF has laid down stringent conditions for
countries to qualify for the "Highly Indebted Poor Countries"
At the OAU meeting in Togo last week, Thabo Mbeki stressed
his determination to push Africas debt relief and renewal onto the G8
agenda, echoing statements he made at the World Economic Forum in Durban last
month. As was said by the South African Deputy Foreign Minister, "Debt
should not be seen in isolation, but as a vital part of an overall, enhanced
and co-ordinated package of measures, aimed at developing a new world agenda to
integrate the developing world into the global economy."