Togo's prime minister resigns

Togo’s Prime Minister, Yawovi Agboyibo, on Tuesday said he had tendered his resignation to President Faure Gnassingbe ahead of the formation of a new, post-elections government.

“I came to hand in my resignation to the president of the republic,” Agboyibo, leader of the opposition Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) party, told national television.

“I was appointed for a specific mission, to conduct the organisation of the parliamentary polls with the Independent National Electoral Commission. My mission ended on October 14,” the date of the vote, he added.

Gnassingbe was made head of state by the army after the death of his father, strongman Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005, but he later bowed to domestic and foreign pressure and stepped down to get himself elected that same year.

Following lengthy talks among political parties to end a period of hard-line rule and opposition vote boycotts that by 1993 made the European Union cut off support for the small West African nation, Gnassingbe in September 2006 gave Agboyibo his job and mission.

International observers gave a free and fair verdict to the vote, which was won by Gnassingbe’s ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT). The RPT took 50 of the 81 seats in Parliament, while the two main opposition parties also did well in the face of the RPT’s long-established political machine.

For the first time in 17 years all the opposition parties took part in the election, including the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), headed by veteran opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, which took 27 seats.
The remaining four seats went to Agboyibo’s CAR.

As long as the late Eyadema, the father of the current president, was in power, Olympio, now aged 71, had refused to come home from Paris where he lived in exile.

His father, Sylvanus, Togo’s first president at independence, was assassinated in 1963 in a coup in which Eyadema took part.

Now Olympio’s UFC has emerged as the country’s second political force, both in terms of seats and in terms of the number of votes, where it lagged just behind the RPT.

It is not yet known who will succeed Agboyibo. If the new prime minister is a UFC member, this is likely to signify that Togo really has turned the page after the “Eyadema era”, which lasted for 38 years until the former president died in February 2005.—Sapa-AFP

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