- The West African peace initiative for Togo is beginning to show results as the opposition today signalled it is considering joining a national unity government to end the political crisis and violence. On the ground in Togo, the situation has become calmer and many Togolose fleeing after the rigged elections are now returning.
The coalition of Togo's six main opposition parties, which claim to have won the recent presidential elections, is today considering to take up a negotiation offer from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take part in a national unity government. The six parties today started negotiating between them, aiming at reaching a joint decision.
It was unclear whether the opposition coalition would reach a joint policy today or whether a statement would be produced tomorrow. The parties have so far been totally against such a solution, fearing it would legitimate the assumedly rigged elections earlier this month.
In that polls, Faure Gnassingbé, son of Togo's late long-time dictator, claimed to have won over 60 percent of the votes, while the opposition's joint candidate, Emmanuel Akitani-Bob, only was to have obtained 38 percent of the votes. The opposition has documented massive irregularities and sources in Togo have told afrol News that in most areas, Mr Akitani-Bob in reality had polled around 90 percent of the votes.
In the violence that suefaced as Mr Gnassingbé's alleged victory was announced, over 22,000 Togolese have fled to neighbouring Benin and Ghana and several hundreds are reported to have been killed, mostly by state security forces. ECOWAS and the international community has been concerned over Togo's potential for yet another West African civil war and has thus tried to negotiate a peace solution.
One of the initiatives, to which Mr Gnassingbé has agreed, is the forming of a national unity government, including his ruling Togolese Popular Party (RPT), parties loyal to the RPT and the united opposition front behing Mr Akitani-Bob. Mr Gnassingbé however is not willing to share powers in the presidency or annull the controversial presidential poll, as the opposition demands.
While the initiatives for peaceful solutions are being discussed, the situation in the capital, Lomé, is slowly stabilising and outbreaks of violence are getter more seldom. This has caused the outflow of Togolese refugees to slow down this week, according to the UN's refugee agency UNHCR.
UNHCR said earlier this week it had registered some 12,483 Togolese refugees in Benin and 10,856 in Ghana, but only 18 had entered Ghana in the past two days. Meanwhile, some 250 refugees went home from Ghana by way of Aflao on Monday and 600 on Sunday, saying that they had learned from radio broadcasts that Lomé was calm. Already some had gone to work in Lomé by day and returned to Ghana to sleep.
The refugees in Ghana had mainly found shelter with family and friends around Aflao, but had also received mosquito nets, blankets, mats, jerry cans and kitchen utensils from UNHCR, as well as assistance from the Ghanaian government, other UN agencies for the host families, UNHCR said in a statement yesterday.
In Benin, arrivals had also slowed, with only 162 registered on Monday at Hilakondji, the main crossing point from Togo, compared to an average 1,000 per day during the post-election scare. The refugees already living in Lokossa and Come camps however said they were not ready to return under the current political situation.
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