Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blair’s appearance at Iraq inquiry to spark mass anti-war protest

by David Brown and Adam Fresco

Thousands of anti-war campaigners are preparing for Tony Blair’s appearance at the Iraq inquiry in what could be the biggest political demonstration since last year’s G20 protests.

Riot police will be on stand-by around the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, close to the Houses of Parliament, as the former Prime Minister faces more than five hours of questioning on Friday.

The day before, anti-war protesters will attempt to blockade an international conference organised by Gordon Brown on the future of Afghanistan at Lancaster House, Central London.

Political leaders from many of the 43 nations involved in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan are expected to attend, including Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, and Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General.

However the focus of the week’s demonstrations is expected to be Mr Blair’s appearance before Sir John Chilcot’s committee. The Stop the War Coalition says that protesters are preparing to travel from across the country.

More than 3,000 people applied for 40 public places in the room where the former Prime Minister will be questioned by the five-member panel. The inquiry is allowing a further 1,400 people into a public viewing room to watch either the morning and afternoon sessions on giant screens.

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