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Opposition congress takes place in Lome with heavy police presence

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY


Latest update : 2010-08-13

The opposition Togolese party Union of Forces for Change (UFC) successfully convened in the capital of Lome on Thursday, despite a deepening rift with the breakaway faction of the UFC, headed by Jean-Pierre Fabre (pictured).

AFP - A party congress convened by Togo's opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, veteran head of the Union of Forces for Change, took place in Lome Thursday under heavy police watch.

Olympio said that his meeting in a grand hotel in Lome, attended by hundreds of supporters, was about renewing the leadership of the UFC and the "profound renovation" of the party.

On Tuesday, police used tear gas to try to prevent the holding of a rival congress by a breakaway faction of the UFC, headed by Jean-Pierre Fabre, who was the party's presidential candidate last March.

Fabre's wing of the UFC managed to meet discreetly on Tuesday and declared that Olympio was ousted from the party, but his supporters made no comment at the time.

The dissidents are displeased that some UFC members joined the government of President Faure Gnassingbe in May, which was heralded as a historic occasion after decades of animosity. Fabre said that he had not been consulted.

"After 40 years of struggle and 50 of independence, the situation in our country demands from everyone a new political courage. We can again bring life to the dream born at independence," Olympio told his supporters Thursday.

He said that Togo today was "in a state of advanced collapse, with chronic poverty, infrastructure run-down or non-existent, education and public health off the rails."

"We must, to this end, know how to reconsider all the solutions needed to go forwards, even slowly, in peace, because our country on its knees cannot wait," Olympio added.

Olympio was a long-time opponent both of general Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ran Togo with an iron fist between 1967 and his death in 2005, and of his son and current President Gnassingbe, before the May agreement.


Date created : 2010-08-13

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