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Global Political Accord (GPA) August 2006

Togo, with a population of 5.5 million, is a republic governed by President Faure Gnassingbe, who was declared president in April 2005 in an election marred by severe irregularities. President Gnassingbe replaced his father, former president Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died in February 2005 after 38 years in power. Eyadema and his party Rally of the Togolese People (RPT), strongly backed by the armed forces, dominated politics and maintained firm control over all levels of the country's highly centralized government until his death. The civilian authorities generally did not maintain effective control of the security forces.

The human rights situation in the country improved; however, serious human rights problems continued, including the inability of citizens to change their government; beatings and abuse of detainees; government impunity; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary and secret arrests and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; executive control of the judiciary; frequent infringement of citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on the press, including closing media outlets; restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement; harassment of human rights workers; female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women; discrimination against women and ethnic minorities; trafficking in persons, especially children; child labor; and lack of worker's rights in export processing zones (EPZs).

The interparty dialogue process was re-launched in November 2005, culminating in successful talks in Burkina Faso during the summer of 2006. In August 2006 President Faure Gnassingbe and members of the opposition signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Probably at Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe's insistence, the RPT approached the Ouagadougou talks with a greater spirit of compromise than existed in the initial, Togolese only, negotiating round. RPT members made real concessions, acquiescing to the inclusion of points certain to disrupt the status quo and resisting pushing for their most controversial ideas.

One of the most beneficial provisions for the opposition concerned the quashing of existing onstitutional amendments regarding eligibility to stand as a candidate in national elections. These amendments, imposed by former president Gnassingbe Eyadema to deny certain opposition members the opportunity to run for national public office, required residing in Togo for a specified period of time and officially renouncing any claims of citizenship outside of Togo. These provisions would not be applied to candidates in the upcoming national elections, paving the way for many opposition members with dual citizenship or who are living in self-imposed exile to throw their hats in the ring.

The GPA provided for a transitional unity government whose primary purpose would be to prepare for benchmark legislative elections. CAR opposition party leader and human rights lawyer Yawovi Agboyibo was appointed Prime Minister of the transitional government in September 2006. Leopold Gnininvi, president of the Democratic Convention of the African People party (CDPA), was appointed Minister of State for Mines and Energy. The third opposition party, UFC, headed by Gilchrist Olympio, declined to join the government, but agreed to participate in the National Electoral Commission and the National Dialogue follow-up committee, chaired by Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.

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