Thursday, December 6, 2007

Faure decides on a PM in Togo; opposition cries foul

Following weeks of jockeying and speculation, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé on Monday chose Komla Mally as the country’s new Prime Minister.

For opposition parties, it only took them a couple hours to cry foul.

Mally, a member of the ruling Togolese People’s Rally, or RPT, was most recently Minister of Urban Development and had also been a Prefect for several years. Fauré’s decision came after the ruling party took 50 of 80 seats in October 14 Parliamentary elections that were generally deemed free and fair.

According to Afriquenligne, after the elections Faure held face to face consultations with Gilchrist Olympio, head of the Union Forces for Change, which has the second largest block in parliament, although holding 27 seats, well behind the RPT.

At least one high-ranking official of the UFC says the party will not participate in the new government. He pointed out that a member of the UFC, the country’s largest opposition, has never had a member appointed to the level of minister.

In an interview with VOA, party leader Gilchrist Olympio claimed a government headed by Mally will not hold up.

"I think he [Mally] is some sort of civil servant, unknown to the public, unknown to the political class," he said. "Our general feeling is that at the stage of the talks between the president and the opposition, the current government could only be a caretaker, or temporary government."

Olympio says the opposition is focusing on reform

"We have to find a way in one form or another to translate the will of half the electorate into institutions that are in place in Togo, and so all our emphasis is reform of institutions and the constitution," he said.

Family affair(s)
The announcement of Mally comes just days after the European Union restored aid for the first time in more than a decade after Togo cleaned up its human rights record. The EU suspended aid during the long and harsh rule of Eyadema Gnassingbe, Fauré’s father, who died suddenly in 2005 after 38 years on the throne.

Togo is home to the continent's first military coup, in 1963, which Eyadema participated in, where independence leader and the country's first President, Sylvanus Olympio, was killed. Eyadema took power four years later, dissolving all political parties for a number of years and holding onto power until his death in 2005. Sylvanus is the father of opposition figure Gilcrhist Olympio.

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