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New Action on Africa’s Debt Needed at World Bank & IMF Meetings This Weekend
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 11:42
World Bank and IMF Gather For Spring Meetings; Africa Action Underscores the Illegitimacy of Africa’s Debt

As the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepare for their annual spring meetings, to be held at their headquarters in Washington, DC this weekend, Africa Action today stresses that an immediate priority of the international financial institutions must be the total cancellation of Africa’s debt, without economic conditions.  The organization further asserts that these wealthy international creditors have a long history of illegitimate and corrupt lending in Africa and that this fact must prompt the cancellation of the continent’s debts without further delay.

Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “The effects of illegitimate lending, from which Africa’s people did not benefit, continue to reverberate throughout the continent.  As countries are made to deplete their budgets to repay their creditors, education and other vital social services are robbed of resources and this historical injustice takes a devastating human toll.”

Africa Action maintains that the policies of these international financial institutions continue to wreak havoc on the countries of the global South.  The organization pointed out that this reality is acute in Africa, where the outflow of massive debt payments has destabilized economies and undermined economic development.

While the role of the IMF in Africa and international debt figure on the agenda of the spring meetings this weekend, Africa Action notes that the case of Liberia and its need for debt cancellation is yet to be decided.  To date, the arrears still owed by Liberia have prevented that country from receiving multilateral cancellation.  Africa Action asserts that these old loans were made to repressive and non-representative rulers, in a clear illustration of illegitimate lending, and that Liberia’s new government should not have to repay such debts.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis and Communications at Africa Action, said today, “The World Bank and IMF have failed to acknowledge their own history of tainted lending and faulty economic practices, in Liberia and elsewhere.  This has contributed directly to the unwillingness of the international financial institutions to comprehensively expand debt cancellation.  This biased approach, unless drastically altered, will continue to prop up an unjust international financial system, in which Africa’s development is held hostage by its foreign debt.”

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education and Mobilization at Africa Action, said today, “While the agenda of the spring meetings critically ignores the issue of illegitimate debt, the global movement to shine a spotlight on this issue grows at a rapid pace.  As efforts around the world ramp up to expose the failures of the international financial institutions, creditors will increasingly be held accountable for their destructive policies.”

Africa Action today released a new resource, the Africa Action Statement on Illegitimate Debt, underscoring the injustice of Africa’s debt burden and defining the organization’s position and demands.  This resource is available here: http://www.africaaction.org/newsroom/docs/IllegitimateDebt0407.pdf.

To demonstrate a key example of illegitimate lending, Africa Action recently released a resource entitled “Illegitimate Debt After Decades of Turmoil: The Case of Liberia.”  This document describes the unjust circumstances under which loans were made to Liberia and the ongoing consequences for economic and human development.  It is available here: http://www.africaaction.org/campaign_new/docs/LiberiaSpotlight.pdf.

Africa Action will co-sponsor an event entitled “Illegitimate Debt in DC and the DRC” on Saturday, April 14, 2007.  This screening and panel discussion will examine the links between corrupt local lending practices and illegitimacy in international financial relationships.  More details can be found here: http://www.africaaction.org/events/index.php.

For more analysis and information about Africa Action’s Campaign to Cancel Africa’s Debt, see http://www.africaaction.org/debt.
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