Funeral march for IMF.
The protest against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank was staged in the Czech capital Prague as officials gathered for the institutions' annual meetings starting tomorrow. 'Fifty years of oppression was enough,' said Sam Kobia, an activist from Kenya calling for abolition of the big international lending institutions.
'Global economy is a global apartheid.'
The funeral march demonstration, launched by the anti-poverty group Jubilee 2000, was intended to draw attention to its claims that 19,000 children die each day as a result of policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank.
But IMF spokesman David Hawley said: 'The claim that the fund kills babies is nonsense. I I speak for the fund but the fund and the bank are both dedicated to reducing poverty.'
With the IMF and World Bank opening their meetings tomorrow following Saturday's session of G7 finance ministers and central bankers, activists have vowed to block the main roads in Prague.
They also hope to trap the delegates to the bank meetings inside a convention centre by forming a massive human chain around it.
Protest organisers had been predicting 15,000-20,000 demonstrators but last night there was no indication so far of a turnout anywhere near that large. Activists complained the Czech authorities were trying to lessen the impact of the demonstrations by turning away some people at the border.
Fearful of a repeat of the violence that marred global meetings in Seattle last year and Washington earlier this year, police have stepped up security.
Meanwhile, the twin threats of costly oil and a fragile euro currency are expected to top the agenda at tomorrow's meetings.
Ministers said expensive oil is the biggest cloud on an otherwise rosy world economic horizon, although the United States still wants both Europe and Japan to do more to stimulate growth and ease the burden on the steaming US economy.
Meanwhile Europeans tried to paint a picture of unified support for the flagging euro amid fears that the United States was only halfheartedly behind Friday's intervention to bolster the currency.
The synchronised move by the US, Japan, the European Central Bank and other allies to buy the euro on foreign exchange markets gave it an immediate boost.
Finance chiefs face anger: Global economy is global apartheid, say protesters