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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Mali stages 'poor man's G8'
Delegates arrive in Siby
An anti-globalisation group has organised the summit

Leaders of the world's most industrialised nations meeting at the G8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada, promise to put Africa high on their agenda.

But in Mali, there is a different kind of summit going on in the village of Siby.


The world's eight richest countries will decide the destinies of millions and millions... to serve the interests of multinationals, industrial countries and corrupt governments in the south.

Organiser Barry Aminata Toure
Unlike the heavy barricades and police presence around the G8 leaders meeting in the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, in the village of Siby, it is all very relaxed and wide open.

Everyone is welcome as participants from seven countries in West Africa meet without fanfare and without luxury to come up with African solutions to African problems.

They are calling it the Poor People's Kananaskis.

Serious business

Here in the village of Siby, about 50 kilometres (35 miles) from the Malian capital, Bamako, there are no policemen, no barricades and there is certainly no luxury.

Even without running water, electric lights or telephones, the people of Siby make it all feel like a very festive occasion.

For the 200 participants at this counter-summit in Siby, however, it is serious business for the next three days.

They have come from all walks of life - farmers, students, religious leaders or just citizens who fear that policies being discussed in Canada will increase poverty and suffering in Africa.

Barry Aminata Toure heads the debt relief and anti-globalisation movement Jubilee 2000 in Mali, which organised the Siby meeting.

Delegates at the summit
The summit will focus on Africa's problems

Speaking of the Canadian summit, she says: "Isolated from the rest of the world, the leaders of the world's eight richest countries will decide the destinies of millions of people on all continents, to serve the interests of multinationals, industrial countries and corrupt governments in the south."

She is not impressed by the new development initiative for Africa - or Nepad - to be discussed at the G8 summit in Canada.

Shoestring budget

Ms Toure says Nepad was poorly conceived and does not represent the needs or the wishes of most Africans.

She says it was developed by only four African presidents - Nigerian, Senegalese, Algerian and South African - who did not consult their people.

Cooking in Siby
Villagers get on with their lives as the summit kicks off

She says the Siby summit is being held on a shoestring budget.

Ms Toure was able to get the Canadian Embassy in Mali to help finance it, but other embassies of the G8 countries refused, saying it was not in their interests.

Malian sociologist Aminata Dramane Traore goes further.

She believes that Nepad and the G8 summit are anti-democratic.

Organisers say their choice of Siby for the counter summit is symbolic.

Nearly 800 years ago in this same village, Emperor Soundjata Keita held an historic summit and drew up the very first constitution for the tremendously wealthy Mali Empire that covered much of West Africa.

That was at a time when several of those now wealthy G8 countries were still in the Dark Ages.


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26 Jun 02 | Africa
26 Jun 02 | Middle East
26 Jun 02 | Middle East
26 Jun 02 | Americas
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