Gilchrist Olympio Returns to Togo

Togo’s exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio returned to Lomé Saturday, after eight years in exile. He was greeted by thousands of cheering Togolese who want to see an end to the 38-year bloody military rule of the family of the late Gnassingbe Eyadema.

“This is the only man that can save the country,” people said during the celebration. Olympio, who fled the country in 1997 after a series of assassination attempts, has made only occasional visits back.

“I am happy to be back,” Olympio declared.

On Saturday, he called for reconciliation with the military.

“Not all soldiers are enemies of change,” he said at a news conference and political rally held later. “The armed forces will help us in the reconstruction effort of the new Togo.”

Olympio’s father and Togo’s first democratically elected leader, Sylvanus Olympio, was assassinated in a 1963 coup led by Gnassingbe Eyadema, who openly took power four years later. Eyadema died Feb. 5 and the military installed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, but protests and international outcry forced him to step down. – Exiled Opposition Leader Returns to Togo, AP, March 20, 2005

Olympio’s support for opposition candidate Bob Akitani is very important. Only a united opposition has any chance of overcoming the obstacles the RPT and Gnassingbe’s supporters are going to erect to get “Baby Eyadema” back into daddy’s office.

These guys stop at nothing, as LeTogolais documents in a gruesome list of the 140 victims of the short reign of the Faure Gnassingbe- Abbas Bonfoh regime. The list ws compiled and presented by the Ligue togolaise des droits de l’Homme (Togolese Human Rights League).

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