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Togo, Rivals OK Foreign Mediators

December 25, 1998

LOME, Togo (AP) _ Togo’s president and his main rivals have agreed to invite diplomats from Europe and French-speaking countries to mediate in January talks aimed at resolving an election dispute, party officials said Friday.

Leader of opposition group Union of Forces for Change, Gilchrist Olympio, has filed a protest with the Supreme Court in this small French-speaking West African nation, contesting the results of June presidential elections.

President Gnassingbe Eyadema prematurely ended vote-counting and declared himself the winner.

Opposition groups have boycotted parliament and organized street protests that flared into violence with police. Eyadema has offered to form a coalition government with Olympio, but the opposition leader declined.

The mediators for the talks, likely to be held in mid-January, will be from the European Union, Germany, France and other French-speaking countries. Observers from the United States, Canada and neighboring African states may also be invited.

Eyadema has ruled Togo since seizing power 31 years ago in a bloody military coup, during which he ordered the execution of former President Sylvanus Olympio, Gilchrist’s father.

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