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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 20:17 GMT
Togo president frees opposition leader
Togolese president Gnassingbe Eyadema
President Eyadema says he wants national reconciliation
The authorities in Togo have released a leading opposition figure, Yawovi Agboyibo, from prison where he has spent most of the past nine months.

Mr Agboyibo looked well but thin when he returned home to be greeted by friends and supporters.

He said he had been taken completely by surprise when the state prosecutor came to the jail on Thursday night, and drove him home himself.

President Gnassingbe Eyadema said he had decided to free Mr Agboyibo in the interests of national reconciliation.

Urgent appeals

Mr Agboyibo was jailed for six months in August for libelling Mr Eyadema's prime minister, Agbeyome Kodjo.

But he was kept in prison because new accusations of criminal conspiracy were brought against him.

Opposition groups repeatedly called for his release as a key demand in return for ending their boycott of a commission set up to supervise democratic elections.

The human rights organisation Amnesty International had also urged Mr Eyadema to set Mr Agboyibo free.

See also:

11 Aug 01 | Africa
Riot police disperse Togo demo
21 Jul 99 | Africa
Togo to sue Amnesty International
25 Jul 01 | Africa
Timeline: Togo
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Togo
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