Monday, May 5, 2008

Togo launches truth and reconciliation commission into 2005 elections

File this under: Too late.

Togolese officials have begun what they call “national consultations” to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding the country’s 2005 election where an estimated 500 people were killed by police forces.

Presently, officials are fanning throughout the country looking to talk to members of all strata of society, taking opinions what the mandate, focus and responsibilities of such a commission should be.

Togo’s April 24, 2005 presidential election was rife with complications surrounding the succession of long-serving ruler Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had died a few months before. Opposition parties cried foul when the government circumvented the constitution after Eyadema’s sudden death on February 5 by naming his son, Faure Gnassingbe, president. Per the constitution, the post should have gone to speaker of Parliament. After domestic and international outcry, Faure eventually stepped down and was named Presidential contestant for the ruling party.

Citing a law that stipulates candidates must live in the country for the previous 12 months before an election, government officials also barred long-time opposition figure Gilchrist Olympio from the polls. Olympio, who was seriously injured during a 1992 assassination attempt against him, had been living in exile in France. Faure eventually won the election with 60 percent of the vote and has been trying to heal the country’s wounds since then.

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