Tuesday 18 December 2018

Ban on anti-Donald Trump protest at snowy Davos branded ‘scandalous’

Authorities had cited the weather as the reason for prohibiting a demonstration against the US president whose attendance remains in doubt.

Armed police on a roof near the Davos conference venue (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Armed police on a roof near the Davos conference venue (Markus Schreiber/AP)

By Tom Ross

Swiss authorities have been accused of “bowing to global elites” by rejecting permission for protesters to demonstrate against US president Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Tamara Funiciello, of Switzerland’s Young Socialists, said: “I find it scandalous! It’s unbelievable.”

Ms Funiciello said the move was “a way of hiding behind the power of global elites”, adding that the authorities “need stronger spines”.

The authorities said heavy snowfall had limited the space available for a demonstration in Davos on Thursday, the day before Mr Trump was due to address the World Economic Forum.

Davos officials said earlier on Monday: “The extremely tight space situation due to the enormous amount of new snow doesn’t allow for a rally in the coming days”.

Members of Switzerland’s Social Democratic Party and Green Party had requested permission to stage a protest on Thursday.

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Police officers battling the elements in Davos (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The Swiss military is stationing 4,377 troops in and around Davos, Switzerland, to provide security for this year’s meetings at the World Economic Forum, which is set to be headlined by Mr Trump.

General Aldo Schellenberg said the number was not changed following the announcement that Mr Trump would be the first serving US president to attend in nearly 20 years. He also said the security detail is similar to that provided in the past few years.

Around 93% of the military on display are conscripts. The Swiss air force is providing 2,580 troops, while 1,600 are infantry and 187 are from the military police.

In light of the heavy snow that is falling around Davos, military and police officials are not sure how many people are preparing to protest against Mr Trump’s visit.

There is some uncertainty about Mr Trump’s attendance, however, in light of the US government shutdown in Washington.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they will determine what to do “as the day goes on and as we see how the next couple of hours go”.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin is leading the delegation of Cabinet members and top aides and was scheduled to leave on Monday.

Mr Trump was planning to leave later in the week.

Asked if Mr Trump would attend if the government is still shut down, Ms Sanders said: “I don’t know that that’s very likely. I wouldn’t imagine it is.”

The founder of the World Economic Forum said he hopes Mr Trump’s planned visit to a gathering of world decision-makers and elites in Davos later this week will “provide him even better with a global perspective”.

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Delegates arriving at Davos (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Klaus Schwab said: “It’s good to have the president here, if the snow conditions and the situation in Washington allow us.”

The White House has said Mr Trump plans to detail his America First policy in Davos. More than 60 heads of state and government, plus hundreds of business leaders, academics, policy advocates and celebrities are expected for the Tuesday-Friday meeting.

Press Association

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