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Togo PM, government resign in surprise move

Thursday - 7/12/2012, 11:51am  ET

LOME, Togo (AP) - Togo's prime minister and his government have resigned in a surprise move that puzzled observers in the tiny West African nation Thursday.

A presidential statement gave no reasons for the departure of Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo and his Cabinet ministers. It only stated that President Faure Gnassingbe accepted the resignation late Wednesday.

The resignation comes on the backdrop of increasing anti-government protests over the past weeks and ahead of municipal and legislative elections due in October.

Houngbo, a former top United Nations development official, started his tenure in 2008 with the main pledge to boost the poor nation's economy. But critics say he made too little progress in reducing poverty.

Togo has been ruled by the same family for almost half a century, with Gnassingbe assuming power in 2005 after the death of his father, the longtime dictator.

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