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Africa

Fabre UFC faction hooligans, says Togo minister

media When they were friends - Gilchrist Olympio (L) et Jean-Pierre Fabre (R) AFP

A Togolese minister has called opposition members "hooligans" and defended the government's decision to send in steel-helmeted anti-riot gendarmes to prevent a meeting of a faction of Togo’s main opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC) on Tuesday.

The UFC has recently split, following deep disagreements between its leader, Gilchrist Olympio, and some of the executive members, including presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre.

His faction, which tried to hold an extraordinary congress on Tuesday, broke with Olympio after he formed a national government with President Faure Gnassingbé. Both leaders claim that their faction is the real party.

But Togolese Minister for Information Djimoh Ore says the government took the decision to ban the Fabre extraordinary UFC party congress because it was illegal and unauthorised.

According to the statutes and by-laws of the Union of Forces for Change party, only Gilchrist Olympio has the legal right to convene an extraordinary congress of the party, the minister claims.

“Mr Olympio remains the leader and chairman of the Union of Forces for Change party according to its statutes deposited with the competent authorities for the registration of political parties,” he told RFI.

For this reason, he says that “the fact that Jean-Pierre Fabre was the UFC party candidate in the last presidential elections held in Togo does not offer him the automatic leadership of the party”.

“Fabre is taking the laws into his own hands to perpetuate acts of hooligans, disorder and anarchy in Togo," Ore says. "We cannot allow that to continue."

But Secretary General Jean-Pierre Fabre insists that Olympio has been suspended from the UFC by a majority of the National Bureau of Executives for not holding consultations with the rank and file over joining a national government with the ruling Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT) of President Faure Gnassingbé.

Meanwhile , calm has returned to Lomé and the running battles between of Fabre faction supporters and the anti-riot gendarmes have subsided.

The "authentic congress" of the UFC party led by Gilchrist Olympio will take place on 12 August 2010 in Lomé, according to  Minister Djimoh Ore.

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