Togo Leader Meets With Pope

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2003 ( John Paul II granted a brief audience to General Gnassingbe Eyadema, president of Togo and Africa’s long-reigning head of state.

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The Pope also greeted the entourage accompanying the African president. Later, Eyadema met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Vatican press office gave no details of the discussions.

The Holy Father visited Togo in 1985, during his 27th international apostolic trip.

Eyadema, 66, has been in office since 1967. He was re-elected for five years last June 1, following contested elections.

Togo, which lies between Ghana and Benin, has a population of 5.4 million. Half of the people profess indigenous beliefs, while 27.9% are Catholic, 1% are other Christians, and 20% are Muslim. The country’s precarious economy is burdened with foreign debt.

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