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Togo's main opposition party joins government

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-28

Gilchrist Olympio, a veteran of 20 years at the helm of Togo's main opposition party, has agreed to enter a coalition government for the first time.

AFP - Togo's main opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), has joined government for the first time and will run seven ministries, including foreign affairs, a presidential decree said Friday.

Veteran opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, 74, will participate in the new government, according to the cabinet ministerial list in the decree, read out by the director of state television TVT, Kouessan Yovodevi.

This marks the first time that the UFC, created in 1992, will play a formal role in government in Togo since the democratic process started in the small west African nation in 1990.

The new head of Togo's diplomacy is Elliott Ohin, according to the list.

Olympio said on Thursday that he had signed "on behalf of the UFC, a political agreement to participate in a government of national recovery in the spirit of power-sharing with the ruling RPT (Togolese People's Rally) party."

Olympio is the son of Sylvanus Olympio, Togo's first president, who was assassinated in 1963 during a military coup by general Gnassingbe Eyadema, father of the current Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.

After winning a presidential election in March, Gnassingbe told Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo to engage in discussions with the opposition with a view to forming a broad-based government.

Apart from the foreign ministry, the UFC was given charge of the ministries of communication, higher education and research, industry, the free trade zone and technological innovation, in a new team of 31 members.

Olympio was long the foe of Eyadema, who became head of state in 1967 and ruled the country with an iron hand for 38 years till he died in 2005, when his son came to power.

The UFC's candidate in the March 4 presidential election, Jean-Pierre Fabre, came second in that poll, according to official results.

But Fabre has so far refused to recognise the victory of Gnassingbe, claiming that he had won.

Date created : 2010-05-28


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