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Anti-WEF protests gather pace

Using banknotes as blinkers was one way of protesting against the WEF Keystone

Anti-globalisation protests have kicked off to a peaceful start across Switzerland, demonstrating against next week's World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos.

Demonstrations are taking place in a dozen cities including Bern, Basel, Geneva, Lugano, Lucerne, St Gallen and Chur, many with less than 100 participants.

The scene in Bern was dominated by so-called “cultural” protests, with music blaring from speakers, including reggae and hip-hop, and street theatre.

Some activists took to the streets with placards emblazoned with anti-WEF slogans. Others released multicoloured balloons into the sky.

Lucerne hosted a street party. Marches were set to take place in Lugano and St Gallen.

However, opposition to the WEF took a nasty turn on Friday night when opponents in Zurich vandalised the home of a management consultant and a building belonging to a technology company.

The incidents – which involved the use of graffiti-spray and the breaking of window with an explosive device – caused SFr2,000 ($1,557) worth of damage, according to police.

Recent years

Demonstrators in recent years in Bern were unable to march through the streets of the Swiss capital because of a ban by local authorities.

Last year riot police were on hand to break up an unauthorised demonstration attended by a few hundred people. Dozens were detained.

In 2005 participation in anti-WEF events in Switzerland was low key, with up to an estimated 2,000 taking part.

Organisers hope that more protesters will turn out in force this year.

swissinfo with agencies

The World Economic Forum annual summit in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos will take place on January 25-29, 2006.
Over 2,300 leaders from 89 countries are expected to attend.
One of this year’s co-chairs is Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestlé’s CEO.
Themes include the emergence of China and India and creating future jobs.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR