09.05.2005 Togo

US urges end to violence against opposition in Togo

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Accra, May 9, GNA - The United States on Monday called on President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo to end the violence against opposition supporters and work towards a government of national unity. The US further condemned the increasing violence, which has led to more than 20,000 persons seeking refuge in neighbouring Benin and Ghana.

A statement issued in Accra quoted Mr Richard Boucher, Spokesman for the US Department of State, as saying Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria had agreed that a unity government was an essential step for Togo to move forward. This, the two countries believe, would lead to a genuine power sharing structure.

"Togo's two principal political forces are to enter into a dialogue leading to a genuine power sharing," the statement said.

Mr Boucher pledged US support for ECOWAS' involvement saying: "We strongly support efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote this."

It said President Gnassingbe, who was sworn in on May 4, had stated that his aim was to form a national unity government and to advance democratic reforms.

The statement said: "Reforming Togo's electoral laws and institutions must be a top priority of that government. Togo cannot afford to lose another opportunity for a peaceful national reconciliation.

"We stand ready to support the people of Togo and efforts to foster national unity."

The US expressed regret that national reconciliation in Togo suffered a setback from the flawed electoral process, violence by both sides and the failure of the election authority to act in a politically neutral fashion. 09 May 05

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