Letter: West must not loot Zaire anew

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The Independent Online
Sir: President Mobutu of Zaire seems about to exile himself for ever from the country he has bled dry since assuming power. Now is the time for the international debt agencies to show that humanitarian concerns and natural justice matter more to them than profit.

The arch-thief Mobutu has amassed a fortune estimated at $5bn-$6bn. This colossal amount is around the same as Zaire's national debt. Debt repayment is a burden on the whole of the South, but weighs particularly heavily on the poorest, and, according to the World Bank's own figures, the mass of Zaireans are the poorest of them all.

Will the Bank, and their partners the International Monetary Fund, forgive these stolen loans? Or will they force the incoming regime to continue to bleed Zaire's poor to repay the money stolen by Mobutu; a process akin to making the new owners of a house liable for the debts of their predecessors?

If the IMF and World Bank continue with "business as usual" they will have forfeited all moral right to continue to act as the rich world's debt collectors.

ANDREW WHITWORTH

Leeds

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