Anti-Davos protest ban could spark violence

GENEVA (Reuters) - Left-wing parties and anti-capitalist groups denounced a "dictatorial" ban on a demonstration planned for January 31 in Geneva against the Davos World Economic Forum and said the move could cause violence.

One group planning to march through the city center said on Thursday that the organizers would meet soon to discuss how to react to the decision by the Socialist-controlled government of the canton of Geneva.

"The decision risks producing the opposite effect to what was intended and provoking incidents, because some people will not submit to this dictate," said a statement from the small Les Communistes party.

Bild: Davos

The Solidarite grouping which links radical left parties in Geneva's cantonal parliament, or Council, and had declined to take part in the march, said it opposed the ban -- demanded by right-wing parties -- as a violation of public freedoms.

Announcing the ban earlier this week, the Socialist President of the Council -- effectively head of government -- Laurent Moutinot said he felt he was not banning a protest "but taking measures against a gathering of rioters."

Geneva officials, on the moderate left as well as from centrist and right parties, feared that the protest would bring a repetition of violence during another anti-capitalist march in 2003 against a summit of the G8 group of rich countries.

One reason given by Solidarite for staying out of the demonstration was that it had been organized by groups largely based outside the Geneva canton.

The Forum in Davos, at the other end of Switzerland and where protests have been banned over the past few years, has been an annual event since the 1970s and is being held this year from January 28 to February 1.

On Wednesday, the Geneva-based Forum said business and political leaders from around the world will gather there in record numbers to chart a way out of the economic crisis.

Anti-Forum groups argue that it is a focus for capitalist leaders from government and industry to plan how to maintain domination of the global economy and pursue exploitation of workers in the West and the peoples of poor countries.