Thousands of people -- including Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and former Boyzone member Ronan Keating -- held an all-night vigil late this weekend at London's Westminster Abbey to demand a better trade
Thousands of people -- including Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and former Boyzone member Ronan Keating -- held an all-night vigil late this weekend at London's Westminster Abbey to demand a better trade deal for the world's poor countries.
Organizers said more than 25,000 people participated in the vigil, which ended Saturday morning with a march to Prime Minister Tony Blair's 10 Downing Street residence. Police said about 7,000 people took part.
Participants were entertained at the centuries-old abbey by a solo set from Yorke and a performance by Keating. Vocalist Beverley Knight and actors Vanessa Redgrave and Pete Postlethwaite also took part.
The demonstrators held a candlelit protest in nearby Whitehall, the street at the heart of British government. The vigil was organized by the Trade Justice Movement, a coalition that seeks to change international trade conditions it says force farmers in developing countries to compete with cheaper foreign imports.
Yorke said the demonstration was "a reminder to the government during the election campaign that this is an issue that should be taken seriously."
Blair's government, which is contesting a national election on May 5, has made helping poor countries, especially in Africa, a priority for its current presidency of the G-8 group of wealthy nations.
"[Treasury chief] Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have a made a big fuss about their support for these issues," Yorke told BBC radio. "Hopefully they'll see that through."
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