'Summit of the Poor' to match G8

2009-07-09 20:15

Bandiagara - More than 1 000 from Africa and elsewhere have gathered in northern Mali for the annual "Summit of the Poor", to match this year's Group of Eight meeting in Italy.

"Now is the time that the North realises the need to help the poor nations. It isn't even aid we're asking for. We simply want a fairer distribution of wealth, that's all," Barry Aminata Toure, the chair of the summit, told AFP at Bandiagara on Thursday.

Launched in 2002, the "Summit of the Poor" has become an annual institution held "to prevent the G8 having the monopoly on talking," according to the organisers in this town in the Sahel region of west Africa.

Several participants urged the wealthy, developed countries to reconsider their increasingly tough stance against immigration.

"The conditions to get into France are becoming harder and harder," said Olivier Keita, an activist from Guinea. "That's not normal."

By the stadium in Bandiagara, where the summit is taking place, banners stated: "Debt kills, kill it," and "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer."

Several events were planned, including a "peasant farmers' conference" and a "march of the peoples", to encourage Africans to buy and use African produce.