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Togo Foes Fail to Agree on Unity Government

Togo's political adversaries have failed to agree on a government of national unity at a summit of African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was held to stem a post-election crisis, which has led to dozens of deaths and thousands of people fleeing opposition strongholds.

A joint statement issued by several African leaders at the summit held all day Thursday urged the Togolese political class to demonstrate more flexibility.

It called for a framework for dialogue aimed at restoring stability including the creation of a national unity government representing the entire political class.

The statement also called for an end to violence, impunity and vandalism.

At least 100 people have been killed since Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late 38-year ruler, Gnassingbe Eyadema, was declared the winner in April elections marred with fraud. Riots started immediately after the voting ended when soldiers stole ballot boxes in opposition strongholds.

The spokeswoman for the West African group ECOWAS, which organized the summit as well as the flawed election, Adrienne Diop, says she believes the two sides at least agreed a unity government is needed.

"I think we have a consensus on that is the way forward. Now they will go home and work out the details. President Faure Gnassingbe reiterated his readiness to have a government with all political parties," said Ms. Diop.

She said what's important to underline is that a process of dialogue had resumed.

"I don't think you can say these talks have failed, these talks were the first talks after this supposed electoral fraud," she added. "Now there are little differences here and there on how to see the way forward. You don't expect opposition and government to agree on everything from the beginning. But at least they agreed to dialogue when they go back home. And that is the most important thing. In a one-day summit, you can't go into details and finalize everything."

But the so-called radical opposition has called for inquiries into the vote rigging and the army crackdown. It has also called for legislative elections as well as a new presidential poll. The main opposition leader is Gilchrist Olympio, himself the son of Togo's founding president who was killed in a coup.

A spokesman for the current president, the 39-year-old Mr. Gnassingbe, said a new presidential vote would be impossible. Mr. Gnassingbe had already taken power in a bloodless military coup after his father died, but stepped down under internal and external pressure, to allow the elections to go ahead.