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World Politics

Bob Geldof: An open letter to the leaders of the G8

Just so we're clear... The Live8 concerts that are happening this weekend will be a wonderful musical occasion. But despite the fact that the world's greatest popular musicians are playing, they are not the stars of the show. The 8 of Live8 are not 8 musicians or bands - they are you, the 8 leaders of the G8.

We are gathering for you the largest mandate for action in history. Just as people demanded an end to slavery, demanded women's suffrage, demanded the end of apartheid, we now call for an end to the unjust absurdity of extreme poverty that is killing 50,000 people every day in the 21st century. Live 8 is taking place so that you, our elected leaders, right now, in 2005, make the breakthrough demanded by, amongst others, the Commission for Africa in the battle towards making poverty history. You know what needs to be done, specifically:

On Aid: Deliver an extra $25bn aid for Africa and make plans to ensure this aid really will be effective at eradicating poverty. This must stand beside a further $25bn for the other poorest countries of the world. This is the absolute minimum required to begin to win the battle against extreme poverty.

On Debt: Confirm the 100 per cent debt cancellation from the G8 finance ministers' meeting and commit to 100 per cent debt cancellation for ALL the countries that need it and remove damaging economic policies that are imposed as a condition.

On Trade: Make decisive steps to end the unjust rules of trade, and allow poor countries to build their own economies, at their own pace. It is only through trade that Africa will eventually beat poverty on its own.

Let it be equally clear that, at the same time, African governments must be free from corruption and thuggery and put in place recognised practices of good governance, accountability and transparency towards their own people and to the world. Twenty years ago at Live Aid we asked for charity. Today at Live8 we want justice for the poor. The G8 meeting next week can take the first real step towards eradicating the extremes of poverty once and for all.

We will not applaud half measures, or politics as usual. This must be a historic breakthrough.

Today there will be noise and music and joy, the joy of exuberant possibility. On Friday there will be a great silence as the world awaits your verdict.

Do not disappoint us. Do not create a generation of cynics. Do not betray the desires of billions and the hopes of the poorest of our world. Are those 50,000 people each day to be allowed to live, or not?

Bob Geldof, Live8 and all of its supporters