|07-09-2002, 09:31 PM||#1|
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(07-09-2002) Bono moves debt crusade to the streets - The Sunday Times
July 7, 2002
Bono moves debt crusade to the streets
By Maurice Chittenden
The Irish rock star Bono is threatening to take his campaign against Third World debt, Aids and
poverty onto the streets in protest at a lack of action by world leaders.
The lead singer of the band U2 has been lobbying world leaders including George WBush, Tony
Blair and Jacques Chirac for more than a year in an effort get western democracies to cancel
Third World debts and increase support for poor nations.
However, he was angered by the results of the recent G8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada, where
the leaders of the world's most powerful economies rejected a proposed Pounds 40 billion aid
and investment package for Africa.
Venting his frustration at the time, he said: "What I'm looking at is a lot of rhetoric, a lot of old
numbers just kind of fiddled with ... I just hoped they'd have had the imagination to make a giant,
giant leap here." Friends say his anger has grown over the past two weeks and that he wants the
debt campaign to become more active. He thinks that quiet diplomacy has failed and that public
protest may prove more effective.
It could mean that Bono is seen waving placards on the streets with other demonstrators at the
next summit rather than being cosseted inside with presidents and prime ministers.
"He is very annoyed at the G8's failure to do any more. He is talking of making the debt campaign
more of a protest movement," said a close associate.
The singer believes that his lobbying organisation Data (Debt, Aid, Trade for Africa) could marshal
a groundswell of popular support from the streets. Supported by Bob Geldof and Sir Anthony
Hopkins, he hopes to replicate demonstrations such as those organised in Birmingham four years
ago where 70,000 people formed a human chain in support of debt relief as the city hosted a G8
Bono, who is supported by Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and world's richest man, and George
Soros, the financier, who have helped to fund a Washington office for Data, said: "The G8 know
that this year they've failed to respond to Africa's needs with sufficient vision. Incremental steps
and distant promises are still their trademark.
"The commitments made in Kananaskis must be swallowed into something much more ambitious
to make a historic new partnership with Africa real. To give up at the start would be to give in to
the cynics, and dash the hopes of the millions whose lives hang in the balance here."
Bono has had meetings with some of the world's most powerful politicians to bend their ears about
Africa. Last October he broke away from a U2 tour to go to Ottawa to meet Jean Chretien, the
Canadian prime minister, who hosted the most recent G8 summit.
In May this year he went on a 12-day trip through Africa with Paul O'Neill, the US Treasury secretary.
They were dubbed "the odd couple" as they put on matching tribal costumes given to them by
But Bono has already hinted that he could drop quiet diplomacy if it fails to yield results. "If I'm
speaking to you next year and there hasn't been a real historic movement to deal with the problem
of Aids, to deal with a continent like Africa bursting into flames while we all stand around with
watering cans, I'm going to feel like I've been had," he said recently The 42-year-old father of four
said last week that he was not getting any more mellow. "I'm getting angrier and that's what makes
me believe that with some smart thinking and simple changes to our lives we can drastically
improve the lives of so many other people," he said.
O'Neill, his esrtwhile travelling companion, said last week that America was ready to help African
countries to improve their living standards but he remained wary of debt forgiveness and aid
"I would agree that debt forgiveness may help, but it alone is not the solution," he said.
Instead of funding vague "sympathetic themes", said O'Neill, America would demand measured
improvements in specific areas, including drinking water, primary education and Aids prevention.
"In the past, too much aid has been scattered into the winds of lawlessness, corruption and
unaccountability," he said at the opening of a meeting of the United Nations economic and social
"For 50 years we have accepted and expected too little from development aid."
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