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Togolese Opposition Leaders Upbeat on Democracy


Togolese political leaders meeting in Burkina Faso in an attempt to reconcile the opposing camps say they are confident elections can be held in the near future.

Togolese politicians met in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou for the second day on Wednesday.

Opposition leaders say they now all agree that parliamentary elections can take place soon and that a date should be announced in the next few weeks.

Togo descended into political turmoil following April 2005 presidential elections marred by violence and allegations of vote-tampering.

Leopold Gnigninvi of the opposition Democratic Convention for African People says he wants a long-lasting solution.

He says, his followers know how deep Togo's problems go. So, he says, they want to create conditions that will allow Togolese people to go to polling places without fear.

Representatives of Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe declined to comment, saying they were still awaiting Togo's most popular opposition leader, Gil Christ, from the Union of Forces for Change. He is expected to come Thursday.

Burkina Faso's government was hosting the talks. Its minister of security, Djibril Bassolet, says the spirit was very positive.

Bassolet says the atmosphere was good and thinks the negotiators will be able to find a solution, which will be acceptable to everyone.

President Gnassingbe was appointed Togo's leader by the army, when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years, died in February 2005. After violent protests, Mr. Gnassingbe held elections, which he won, but his rivals say the vote was rigged.

Thousands of refugees fled Togo in violence before and after the elections. Most have not returned.

Opposition leaders have been reluctant to engage in negotiations with Mr. Gnassingbe, because they said they did not recognize him.

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