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Africa Action Joins Over 60 African Organizations in Global Week of Action on Debt
Saturday, 20 October 2007 12:57
(Washington, DC) – Today Africa Action called on the U.S. Executive Directors to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to take decisive action on the critical issue of debt cancellation at the Annual Meetings this weekend. A progress report will be given at the meetings on the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). In addition to climate change and the International Development Association’s (IDA) 15th round of replenishment funding, Africa Action anticipates that much attention will be given to the agendas of the two new leaders of the institutions.

Incoming IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan has already emphasized institutional reform as a priority, and freshly appointed World Bank President Robert Zoellick recently described the institution as a “brain trust” and emphasized the connection between aid and trade.

Marie Clarke Brill, Interim Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “It has become increasingly clear that the IMF and World Bank suffer from a crisis of legitimacy. The institutions must take immediate action to provide complete debt cancellation without harmful conditions, starting with Liberia this weekend. Without addressing illegitimate debt, the institutions will be revealed for what they are – not the ‘brain trust’ of global development but a Bank and a Fund that prioritize payment from the poorest.”

The IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings come at the end of a Global Week of Action on Debt and IFIs (October 14 – 21, 2007). Organizations around the world are taking action calling for debt cancellation, including over 60 organizations in 21 countries in Africa. The week began with actions in Tanzania honoring Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere (1922-1999) who led Tanzania to independence in 1961 and was a critic of IMF and World Bank policy. Nyerere advocated for debt repudiation, saying, “Must we starve our children to pay our debts?”

“The impressive number of organizations around the world, particularly in Africa, that are engaging in the Global Week of Action indicates the vibrancy of the movement for debt cancellation and economic liberation. It is long past time for wealthy nations and institutions, including the IMF and the World Bank, to provide complete debt cancellation without harmful conditions. Without debt cancellation, African nations will continue to struggle for economic sovereignty while siphoning resources desperately needed to fight HIV/AIDS to pay off illegitimate debts,” said Marie Clarke Brill.

In the U.S., Africa Action engaged as a member organization of the Jubilee USA Network, joining Members of Congress and religious leaders to break a 40-day rolling fast and supporting the Jubilee Act (H.R.2634 and S.2166). The Jubilee Act provides debt cancellation for 67 countries, many in Africa.

Africa Action recently collected 125 organizational signatures on a civil society letter to the new IMF Managing Director outlining the necessary actions to deal with key institutional obstacles to addressing poverty in Africa. You can access this letter at http://www.africaaction.org/campaign_new/docs/0710_CSO_Letter_FINAL.pdf.

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