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In Togo, Opposition Politicians and Ruling Government Sign Agreement

In Togo, after years of political strife, opposition politicians and the ruling government signed an agreement that could pave the way for peaceful elections next year. The European Union had made national dialogue in Togo a precondition for the restoration of aid, which was cut off in 1993 because of concerns over human rights and democracy. But the new agreement has been rejected by leading opposition parties, including the Union of Forces for Change (UFC). The head of the UFC, Gilchrist Olympio, spoke with Voice of America English to Africa reporter James Butty about his party’s reservations.

“We are participants in the national dialogue and this has gone on for three weeks. After three weeks, we don’t think that any major problems have found a solution. For instance, the problem of the electoral framework, the problem of impunity, the problem of the reform of the army, the problem of eligibility at elections, presidential as well as legislative, etc. We don’t think we have made too much progress. However, we think the only way to solve the crisis is to have serious discussion.”

The new deal calls for Togo’s electoral rolls to be revised and for voters to be issued counter-proof electoral cards, which the opposition had demanded in the past. But Mr. Olympio says there has been no progress in those areas.

“Yes, we agreed that the electoral registrar has to be revised using new cards…. But this has not been approved. And there are other things also. The electoral framework that you are talking about; are we going to have elections one term or elections with a runoff as is the practice in almost the totality of African countries and France? So we are waiting if they agree to have a mediator to come and we find a solution to this problem. Once we do, then we are quite happy to go first to the legislative elections, then later on to presidential.”

Mr. Olympio says his party has never refused to talk; he says it wants to sort the details of negotiation.

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