Geldof is called in by Blair to police G8 poverty deal

Prime Minister sets up independent group to monitor the pledges made to Africa at Gleneagles. Paul Vallely reports
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The Independent Online

The pledges to the world's poor made by the leaders of the rich world at the G8 summit in Gleneagles last year are to be policed by an independent, high-level international group being set up by Tony Blair.

The announcement, to be made tomorrow, comes in the week that celebrity campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono launch their own evaluation of how well the G8 leaders have kept their promises. The report, commissioned from a team of independent experts, will be published by Data (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa), the rock stars' lobbying organisation, on Thursday - three days before the anniversary of last year's Live8 concerts.

Mr Blair is to convene a Gleneagles Monitoring Group to be chaired by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Its members will include Bob Geldof and the Berlin-based anti-corruption campaigner Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International.

President Obasanjo of Nigeria - who has overseen a ferocious anti-fraud campaign in what was until recently the most corrupt country in the world - will be a member.

Sonia Gandhi has also been asked to join, as has Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. There will also be a high-powered American in the group, though it will not be Bill Clinton, as some have suggested. Nelson Mandela has stated that he is too old for such an active role.

It is thought that the group will be financed by the Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and will monitor the pledges to Africa until at least 2010, the date when many of the funding commitments are finally due.

The Prime Minister, who has a commitment to Africa that goes beyond the political, is said to be anxious to ensure that pressure is kept on for the world's poor after he leaves office, probably next summer. One possibility being floated for Mr Blair in his post-No 10 days is the establishment of a Blair Foundation to work, among other things, on global poverty.

Meanwhile, Mr Blair has persuaded the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to include an additional session on Africa at this year's G8 summit in St Petersburg next month. It will chase money for the Gleneagles pledges on health and education.

The commitment of his likely successor, Gordon Brown, is in no doubt when it comes to Africa. The Chancellor and his team did much of the work on what became the blueprint for the Gleneagles package.

His own plan was for an International Finance Facility - a kind of mortgage to deliver several years'-worth of aid money up front. The French proposed a levy on all airline tickets. Now Mr Brown is floating the idea that the money raised from the levy should be used to pay the interest as it falls due on the IFF.

Campaigners who signed up at Live8 are to be asked to join a mass email lobby of politicians in the run-up to the Russian G8. The two million activists who joined the US One Campaign, and the four million in Japan, are now being reactivated. Germany's leading rock musician Herbert Grönemeyer is spearheading action there, and Russian activists are planning a concert on 7 July with Russian and international celebrities.

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