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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 April, 2005, 22:34 GMT 23:34 UK
W Africa delegation visits Togo
Goethe Institute in Togo after arson attack
Germany's cultural institute in Lome was burnt down
A West African delegation has begun efforts in Togo to end the political turmoil following last Sunday's disputed presidential election.

The delegation - from the regional grouping, Ecowas - met Togo's interim president, senior government ministers, as well as opposition leaders.

Meanwhile, thousands of Togolese and foreigners are fleeing the country, many heading for neighbouring Benin.

The opposition says some 100 people have been killed since the election.

In last Sunday's poll Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the previous leader, won 60% of the vote.

"Violence is not the way to deal with democracy," said Mohammed Ibn Chambas, executive secretary of Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States).

"We think the way forward is for Togolese to use dialogue, and to sit down and negotiate."

'Out of control'

Ecowas has certified the election as fair, but the opposition coalition says the poll was rigged to allow the heir of the late president Gnassingbe Eyadema to stay in power.

The UN's Jan Egeland has voiced his concern over the current situation.

"There is a lot of violence and it is getting out of control," the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator told AFP news agency.

Immigrants from Ghana leave Lome by car
Many Togolese and foreigners are fleeing in the wake of the riots
"Another armed conflict in West Africa would be terrible," he said, adding that the militia tend to spread from one country to another.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 11,500 Togolese had fled to Benin and Ghana by Saturday.

"We thought yesterday that calm was returning, but overnight another 400 to 700 came," said Rafik Saidi, the UNHCR's regional representative, speaking from Benin.

Arson attack

Meanwhile, the German government has urged its citizens to leave after the Goethe Institute in Lome was completely destroyed in an arson attack.

Togolese authorities had accused Germany of supporting the opposition.

"The (Togolese) government must ensure that residents and German institutions are effectively protected and stop anti-German provocation and slander of the German ambassador," said German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Mr Gnassingbe won 60% of the 24 April vote, while his main rival, Emmanuel Akitani got 38%.

Scenes of chaos on the streets of Togo

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