News24

Togo cops disperse opposition

2010-08-10 21:09

Lome - Police in Togo fired tear gas on Tuesday to disperse members of an opposition faction attempting to hold a congress in the capital, with organisers saying several people were wounded.

Police did not say if there were any injuries. Togo's government does not recognise the faction of the opposition that police dispersed.

Authorities deployed in the Nyekonakpoe neighbourhood, an opposition stronghold, early on Tuesday ahead of the congress, which was called off.

The opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), has been divided since a number of its members joined the government in the small West African country in May.

The party's president, Gilchrist Olympio, signed a deal with the government earlier this year, prompting the UFC split.

"Our congress will be held one day, whether Olympio wants it or not," Eric Dupuy, a spokesperson for the faction opposed to the deal with the government, told journalists.

Conform to rules

Both factions of the opposition party had announced on Monday that they would hold a congress this week. The congress for Olympio's faction is planned for Thursday.

Late on Monday, the government issued a statement saying only Olympio's faction conformed to the country's rules regarding political parties.

The other faction is led by Jean-Pierre Fabre, UFC secretary general and the party's candidate in presidential elections held in March. Fabre had to leave the area after arriving at the congress on Tuesday.

Olympio had been opposed for decades to General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ran Togo with an iron fist between 1967 and his death in 2005, and then opposed his son, the current President Faure Gnassingbe.

His father was Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of independent Togo who was assassinated in 1963 during a coup in which Eyadema took part.