Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe has set up a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to investigate political violence in the small west African country, state radio reported Thursday.
The 11-member panel comprised of religious figures, traditional chiefs and academics will be headed by Nicodeme Barrigah, bishop of Atakpame, a town 175 kilometres (110 miles) north of Lome, according to a presidential decree signed on Wednesday.The commission was created in the light of consultations from May to July 2008 and includes no members of the political parties, which agreed in August 2006 that a team should be formed to probe violence and satisfy a demand for justice.
"The national consultations clearly showed that members of political parties should not sit on this commission," Minister for Human Rights Yacoubou Hamadou said after the announcement, adding that the panel would be sworn in on Friday.
Togo has been rocked by waves of political violence, particularly in the presidential election of April 2005, after the death of General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years.
Clashes broke out, mainly in opposition strongholds, after the announcement that Faure Gnassingbe, one of the sons of the late ruler, had won the election an opposition demonstrations were violently repressed.
The government has never given an official toll, but estimates vary from 105 dead, according to an association close to the authorities, and 811 according to the opposition.
A United Nations report placed the toll at "between 400 and 500 dead."