July 5, 2005

Police warn G8 protesters, charities chide leaders

By Andrew Gray

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) - Police on Tuesday pledgeda robust response to any violent protests at the Group of Eightrich states summit as campaigners said the leaders' promises sofar were not enough to smash poverty in Africa.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, this year's president ofthe G8, has put helping Africa and tackling climate change atthe top of the agenda for the summit at the luxury Gleneagleshotel and golf resort in the countryside of central Scotland.

Police are gearing up for the start of the summit onWednesday and a potential repeat of clashes on Monday withanti-capitalist protesters in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

John Vine, the chief constable of Tayside Police who areresponsible for summit security, said his force was happy towork with peaceful demonstrators such as those planning a marchin the town of Auchterarder near Gleneagles on Wednesday.

But he added: "Make no bones about it, if we encounterpeople who are prepared to use violence to achieve theiraims...we will take robust action."

The violence in Edinburgh was sporadic, small-scale and notnearly as serious as clashes at previous summits such as the G8in Genoa in 2001. But it has heightened fears in Auchterarderthat Wednesday's march may be hijacked by radical groups.

"We've done a lot of work recently in reassuring people,"Vine said.

Inside the luxury hotel, the political battles will revolvearound how much financial aid should be given to Africa andwhat measures should be taken to curb carbon emissions whichmost scientists agree are causing the earth to heat up.


Blair has championed the cause of Africa and endorsed callsby the Make Poverty History coalition of charities -- whichinspired the Live 8 concerts last weekend to put pressure on G8leaders -- for a doubling of aid to the continent.

But members of the coalition said Britain and the other G8nations -- the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, Italy,France and Russia -- needed to be much bolder if they wanted towipe out poverty which kills a child every three seconds.

Oxfam said the proposed aid boost -- worth about $25billion per year to Africa and the same amount to other poorcountries -- was needed now, not in 2010 as has been mooted.

"Delaying these aid increases until 2010 as is on the cardswould leave a $100 billion black hole in aid budgets,consigning 500 million more people to poverty," Oxfam said in astatement.

The African Union urged the summit to act rapidly to endpoverty on the continent, saying it should implement all theproposals of a high-level British-backed commission on Africawhich also calls for an immediate doubling of aid.

"The assembly (of AU leaders) fully supports therecommendations contained in the Commission for Africa report,"said a statement after a two-day meeting of AU leaders inLibya.

Environmentalists have voiced concern that any agreement onclimate change could be very weak due to major differencesbetween the United States and other G8 nations over theseverity of global warming and how much humans are to blame.

Russia, G8 odd man out because of its comparatively lowliving standards and Western reservations over its democracyrecord, indicated it would seek compromise on the main issuesin view of its presidency of the group next year.

Though Russia ratified the Kyoto treaty allowing it to comeinto force, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenkoappeared to express sympathy for the U.S. view on climatechange.

"It is important that the struggle with global climatechange does not negatively influence the rates of developmentof the world economy," he said.