Listen to music while browsing

US will be good partner to a reformed Togo: Clinton

By AFP

LOME (AFP) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday Washington would be a good partner to Togo as the west African country strengthens its democracy, in the first US high-level official visit there.

Clinton, on a four-nation Africa tour, arrived on Tuesday afternoon and held talks with President Faure Gnassingbe, whose country was recently elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Speaking at the US embassy in Lome later, Clinton said the two had discussed global and regional issues.

"This is an exciting time for Togo," she said, complimenting Togo on presidential elections held in March 2010, which had been hotly contested.

She said legislative polls scheduled for October would be "an important milestone."

Clinton added that "the US will be a good partner to the government of Togo as it build on recent democratic gains, brings in the opposition and dissenting voices, opens up the political participation to women".

Faure Gnassingbe was installed as the country's president by the military in 2005 after the death of his father General Gnassingbe Eyadema who had ruled with an iron fist for 38 years until his death in 2005.

He was then elected in a 2005 vote during which Togo was rocked by waves of political violence. He was re-elected in 2010 but the opposition contested his victory and have held several protests since.

Dialogue is underway between the ruling and opposition parties on institutional and constitutional reforms under the auspices of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission set up in 2009.

The TRC has recorded more than 20,000 cases of political violence over the past five decades.

Clinton was next headed to Cape Verde, her last stop on a whirlwind tour to west Africa which the US State Department said aimed "to demonstrate US commitment to post-conflict return to peace, good governance and economic development".

"President (Barack) Obama believes, as I believe, that West Africa has great potential," Clinton said before meeting Gnassingbe.

On Monday, Clinton visited Liberia where she attended the inauguration of Nobel Laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to a second term, warning that corruption was "one of the roadblocks to greater prosperity" eight years after the end of a devastating civil war.

On Tuesday morning she urged Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara to cement peace by dialogue across the political divide after a deadly post-poll crisis rocked the nation in 2010.