Monday, 17 April, 2000Fresh IMF protests planned
Protesters are planning a third day of demonstrations in Washington aimed at disrupting the last in a series of International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings.
About 10,000 largely peaceful protesters failed to prevent the IMF's main policy-making committee meeting on Sunday but there were violent clashes, during which police said they made about 20 arrests.
Washington's police chief said he expected massive traffic disruption once more as finance and development ministers from 24 countries try to meet on Monday.
The US Government announced late on Sunday that only emergency workers in federal offices should report to work in the morning on the recommendation of the police.
A statement issued by the IMF after Sunday's meeting acknowledged that the IMF was the subject of growing public debate and that the benefits of the improvement in the world economy were not reaching everyone.
The statement also welcomed an improvement in the world economy this year, saying there is a prospect of stronger growth in most regions of the world.
Monday's meeting is expected to focus on debt relief to the world's poorewst countries and the the threat Aids poses to developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean
Violence on the streets
As up to 10,000 protesters flooded the streets of Washington on Sunday, confrontations sprang up at police blockades designed to make downtown Washington a no-go area for the demonstrators.
The worst of the trouble involved a group of a couple of hundred anarchists, identifiable by their black clothes and their aggressive manner.
At one stage, they charged an outnumbered group of police, using fencing torn down from a construction site as a make shift battering ram.
The police hit back with batons, pepper spray and smoke grenades.
Washington's chief of police Charles Ramsey denied reports that tear gas had been used.
The police got most of the delegates in before the buildings were blockaded.
But as tension rose, the finance ministers of France, Brazil, Portugal and Thailand were unable to find a way through the blockade although they eventually arrived for a later session.
However, Mr Ramsey said most of the demonstrators have been peaceful and the first of the two days business had more or less gone on as planned.
"If we can keep things about like they are now, tense but pretty much at a de-escalated state, then I think we'll be OK," he said.
Inside the IMF meeting hall, finance ministers from 24 rich and poor countries had a heavy agenda to tackle.
Several of them have said they share the demonstrators' main concern - to reduce poverty - and they will be discussing issues relating to this.
The ministers and IMF officials were also examining progress on debt relief for developing countries under a scheme agreed last September.
Another item on the agenda was what might be done to prevent a repeat of the Asian economic crisis.
One idea is more active surveillance by the IMF for early warning signs of trouble brewing.
On Saturday, police arrested more than 600 protesters who they said had been marching without a permit.
They also raided and closed down a warehouse used by protesters as their headquarters, saying fire officials had found it to be unsafe.
The weekend's meetings - which began with a gathering on Saturday of finance ministers from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations - were also overshadowed by huge falls in the price of shares in New York on Friday.