- The European Union (EU) has decided on a partial resumption of its cooperation with Togo following steps by the government of President Gnassingbé Eyadema towards restoring democracy in the country, an EU spokesman said on Wednesday. However, the EU said development aid, suspended 11 years ago, would only be fully restored when free and fair elections were held.
- As of now, some projects such as decentralization projects for the promotion of the environment that had been stopped will resume, Jean-Charles Ellerman Kingombe, an EU spokesman on humanitarian aid and development, told IRIN by phone from Brussels on Wednesday.
Other projects that will now be implemented include those that address the population's needs and encourage human rights and democratic principles, the EU said on Monday in a letter notifying the Togolese government of its decision.
The projects are to be financed from money left un-disbursed when the EU suspended development aid to Togo in 1993, citing a "lack of democracy", Mr Kingombe said, adding that the left-over funds amounted to close to 30 million euros.
Togo's government resumed dialogue with the EU this year in the hope of normalising economic relations with the regional body. In April, a Togolese delegation led by Prime Minister Koffi Sama drew up a list of 22 commitments to improve democracy and respect civil and political liberties.
Togo's government has since implemented a number of measures such as launching political talks with opposition parties, reforming a stringent media law and releasing close to 500 common law prisoners, including some who had been held without trial for too long.
However, the EU deemed the measures insufficient to qualify Togo for new development funds. "As soon as all parties agree on an electoral framework and that elections are actually held, we will notify new funds for Togo and start planning on how to spend these funds," Mr Kingombe said, adding that the money to be released amounted to close to US$ 50 million.
In Lomé, the government and its supporters welcomed the EU move. "The Togolese government rejoices over the EU decision to resume cooperation with Togo," the authorities said in a press release read on state radio and television on Monday and published in Tuesday's edition of the national newspaper, 'Togo Presse'.
Buses packed with people shouting slogans such as "Long live the resumption of cooperation" or "long live the President" - drove through the streets of Lomé on Monday evening.
But some opposition leaders chose to highlight the conditions put forward by the European Union. "The EU text is clear, the EU will only resume cooperation once clear and transparent legislative elections have taken place," Yaovi Agboyibo, leader of the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR), one of Togo's main opposition parties, told IRIN on Tuesday.
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