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Togo's Political Rivals Agree to Unity Government


Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo announced Monday that Togo's two main political rivals have agreed to form a unity government, no matter who wins the presidential election. Election results are expected to be announced Tuesday. Mr. Obasanjo hosted the talks after violence in Togo broke out following Sunday's presidential polls.

Opposition supporters armed with sticks speed past a sign for ruling-party candidate Faure Gnassingbe
Togo's ruling party presidential candidate, Faure Gnassingbe, and opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio agreed at a meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to form a Togolese unity government in which all sides would have a stake.

The spokeswoman for the Nigerian president, Remi Oyo, said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had asked Mr. Obasanjo, the current head of the African Union, to take a lead in solving Togo's crisis.

Clashes between opposition supporters and security forces escalated in Togo's capital, Lome, after presidential polls ended Sunday. The results of Sunday's vote are expected to be made known Tuesday, but Ms. Oyo said both Togolese leaders were persuaded that a shared government was the best solution to avoid more violence in their country.

"Whoever wins will decide to form an all inclusive government. In essence there will be no victor and no vanquished in the election. It is not a winner take all situation any more," she said.

However, Ms. Oyo said the Nigerian president did not discuss whether the election had been fair. Each side has accused the other of election fraud. "The question of the nature of the election was not discussed. I mean that is not what was on the front burner. What is on the front burner is that the Togolese people, the major actors in the crisis, have agreed to chart a new course for their country," she said.

Mr. Obasanjo said the two rivals also agreed in Monday's meeting to amend the Togolese constitution to satisfy fundamental human rights and ensure popular participation in politics.

Mr. Olympio, the opposition leader, said he wanted to see a period that respects the rights and dignity of the Togolese people.

Because he has been living in exile, Mr. Olympio cannot run as a presidential candidate under Togo's constitution. He accuses the former president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, of being one of the people responsible for the death of his father, who was also an opposition politician.

Faure Gnassingbe, the son of President Eyadema, said after the meeting in Abuja that he wanted to make Togo's politics less bitter and was willing to work with everyone.

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