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Africa Rev. Asks for Debt Relief

January 20, 1998

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) _ The Archbishop of Canterbury called Tuesday for international lenders to mark the new millennium by waiving Africa’s crippling debts.

``Have the moral courage to take the chains off Africa by relieving her of the burden of unpayable debt,″ the Most Rev. George Carey told 500 representatives of the Organization of African Unity and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.

Carey, leader of 70 million Anglicans worldwide, has urged governments and other creditors to reduce Africa’s debt to levels that countries can afford to pay, which in most cases would mean forgiving 90 percent of loans.

Of the world’s 20 poorest countries, 16 are in Africa.

The debt for 52 sub-Saharan African countries has reached $235 billion, mostly to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and individual governments. Just 14 percent is commercial debt.

The archbishop argued that lender nations, African governments, international institutions and churches had all contributed to the credit crisis by allowing the debts to mount.

``The demands made of debtor nations by the international creditor community frequently involved crushing extra demands on the poorest people, isolating them from the increasing wealth of most of the rest of the world,″ Carey said.

Quoting from the Lord’s Prayer, the archbishop said: ``Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are our debtors.″

All must ``work together to confront the crisis directly and urgently so that the millennium can truly be seen to be a time of new beginning for this great continent of Africa,″ Carey said.

``The churches and all faith groups have a role to play in ... the nurturing of societies all over the world where justice and moral responsibility replace corruption and greed,″ he said.

The leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, Pope John Paul II, in a New Year’s message, called for ``reducing substantially, if not canceling outright″ the developing world’s debts to encourage economic equality.

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