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Protestors Expected At IMF Meeting

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected in Washington over April 16 and 17 when the IMF and World Bank meeting of 182 finance ministers and central bank governors discuss globalisation and the world economy. John Howard reports.

Opponents of globalisation will try and shut down the IMF and World Bank meeting but say they want to avoid the violence which paralysed Seattle during last year's World Trade Organisation sessions.

Activists say they expect tens of thousands in Washington for demonstrations that will include blocking streets and buildings in an effort to prevent officials from atttending meetings.

Teach-ins, parades and giant puppets ridiculing both organisations are planned to build on the momentum established at the WTO Seattle talks.

Activists will also lobby members of Congress about globalisation and issues such as debt forgiveness for the world's poorest nations.

Demonstrators will include trade unions from around the world with the US unions using the occasion to fight the Clinton administration's efforts to secure congressional approval of normal trade relations with China.

The umbrella group Mobilisation for Global Justice, who represents more than 250 organisations involved with those leading the protests, is issuing a non-violence and no property destruction guideline in its training sessions.

Both the IMF and World Bank say they are prepared to talk to protesters but were drawing up contingency plans to prevent disruptions of their sessions.

But according to United Church of Christ spokesperson, Graylan Hagler, the District of Columbia police had received riot control equipment and training.

Meanwhile, DC police say they have put together a team to prepare for demonstrators and will not allow the capital to be shut down. Police Chief Charles Ramsey said he has attended a recent FBI seminar on the lessons of the Seattle disorder.

IMF officials have declined to provide details of security arrangements but said they had held talks with local officials to develop contingency plans if protestors try to shut down the meetings.

The protest groups view the Washington-based IMF and World Bank as institutions whose programmes have failed countries while enriching corporations.

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