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Togo's Government, Opposition to Sign Accord


Togo's government and opposition parties will officially sign an agreement Sunday aimed at ending the country's political crisis.

The agreement, initialed by all the participants in the talks, calls for the formation of a government of national unity. It also envisions legislative elections by October 2007 and the reform of key democratic institutions.

The deal is meant to end Togo's political crisis that followed the country's April 2005 presidential elections, which were marred by violence and allegations of vote-tampering.

The talks took place in neighboring Burkina Faso under the chairmanship of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore.

Senior member of the main opposition Union of Forces for Change, Patrick Lewson, says his party got what it wanted.

"I am satisfied, because the points we wanted included all have been included in the final document we signed," he said.

Lewson says Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe has shown that he is serious about reform and this has inspired confidence in the process.

"After 40 years of crisis, that the Togolese people have had, everybody including the actual government itself [want change]," he added. "The government has shown the will to cease violence and do things democratically, those a signs which should be taken into consideration."

The 2005 election to replace President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled Togo for 38 years and died earlier that year, installed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, in power. The election was marked by street violence and it was widely seen as rigged.

Some 25,000 Togolese fled the country, but most have since returned.

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

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