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Africa ministers want G20 seat

2009-10-04 21:50

Istanbul - Africa's poorest nations on Sunday demanded representation within the Group of 20 (G20) developed and emerging economies, which was turned into the world's main economic policy forum last week.

"There has to be at least one seat for nearly a billion Africans who need to be heard," Cameroonian Finance Minister Lazare Essimu Menye told reporters ahead of annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

"Our partners have to accept that we are best placed to explain to them what would be best for Africa," he said at a news conference in Istanbul.

Asked if South Africa, a member of the G20, could represent Africa, Menye rejected the idea and said: "South Africa defends its own economy."

Nigerien Finance Minister Ali Lamine Zeine said: "Since our fate is being discussed it's important to us that our opinions be taken into account."

Senegalese Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop said the G20 could not "continue to ignore hundreds of millions of Africans".

The ministers are all members of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) group, which includes 35 countries that are negotiating with the International Monetary Fund to reduce their foreign debt burden.

In a joint statement following a ministerial meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, the HIPC group said it "deplored" the fact that no poor country was represented at the G20 and urged that this be "remedied".

The G20 has gained strength in the global economic crisis and leaders of the G20 countries agreed at a summit in Pittsburgh last month that their group would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.