Togo Rivals Agree to End Violence

Sant’Egidio Community Convened Meeting

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ROME, JULY 25, 2005 ( The Sant’Egidio Community convoked the first meeting between the president of Togo and the leader of the opposition since violence broke out following recent presidential elections.

President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of Togo and Gilchrist Olympio, president of the National Union of Forces for Change (UFC), met at the headquarters of the community in Rome on July 21.

A spokesman for the community said there had been a positive atmosphere at the talks, with both sides showing goodwill.

The meeting is the first step toward reconciliation in the African country, which has been in crisis since the presidential elections on April 24, when Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe was declared winner with 60% of the votes. The opposition rejected the results and called for new elections.

Common ground

The leaders agreed to end the violence, release political prisoners and invite refugees to return to Togo.

Some 60-65,000 Togolese have sought refuge in Benin, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Both leaders also agreed to continue “discussions to reach a political agreement on the overall lines of the country’s process of democratization,” reported the Sant’Egidio Community.

In fact, the two representatives requested that the community convoke “the parties again, and to support them in the dialogue.”

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