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17.04.2005 Togo

Violence in Togo's presidential campaign kills 7

By xHt

LOME, April 17 -- Violence in Togo's presidential election campaign killed seven and injured more than 100 in the capital on Saturday while both the ruling party and the opposition blamed each other for provoking the clashes.

Six ruling party supporters were beaten to death and about 100 their colleagues were injured during clashes with opposition supporters, said a statement issued on Sunday by the Togolese Movement for the Defense of Liberties and Human Rights, a party close to the ruling Rally of Togolese People.

A statement of the ruling party's youth wing said the casualties were caused by opposition supporters' attack.

Meanwhile, Yawovi Agboyibo, a leader of the opposition coalition, accused ruling party supporters of provoking the violence, saying one opposition supporter was also killed and 50 others were injured in the clashes.

Togo's authorities have neither made comments on the clashes nor given an official number of the casualties.

Faure Gnassingbe, candidate of the ruling party, called for no more violence in the election campaign.

"I want to invite you to work with me so that this never happens again," he told his supporters at a rally in the capital, saying he condemned all acts of political violence.

The presidential elections, scheduled for April 24, were called after Gnassingbe, son of former Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, resigned on Feb. 25 under mounting pressure. Gnassingbe was named by the army as the country's new leader hours after his father's death on Feb. 5, triggering both international and domestic protests.

He is now running as the candidate of the Rally of Togolese People which was established by his father.

Togo, a former French colony, sits between Ghana and Benin on the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa. Enditem

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