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Reconciliation talks begin

Talks between Togo's government and opposition parties aimed at resolving an ongoing political crisis opened on Monday, but in the absence of President Gnassingbe Eyadema's main rival, Gilchrist Olympio, news organisations reported. The government's spokesman, Kofi Panou, told IRIN on Tuesday he hoped that Olympio, leader of the main opposition Union des Forces pour le Changement(UFC), would attend the meeting after being urged to do so by international mediators. Olympio, who has been living in exile in Ghana for the past seven years, refused to enter Togo on Sunday after arriving at a border post, saying his security was not guaranteed. The UFC's representative at the talks is its secretary-general, Jean-Pierre Fabre, news organisations said. According to Panou, an executive committee comprising eight representatives of the government and the opposition were meeting on Tuesday to organise the agenda for the discussions, expected to last about 10 days. Togo's opposition boycotted parliamentary elections in March 1999, charging that the 1998 presidential election, which Olympio says he won, was rigged. The reconciliation talks, which the two sides agreed to at a meeting in Paris in June, are taking place in the presence of international facilitators from the European Union, the Francophone group of countries, France and Germany.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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