AU calls Togo succession coup d'etat as world mourns death of Eyadema
ABUJA, Feb 5 (AFP) - The African Union said
Saturday it would not accept the military decision to
replace deceased Togo president Gnassingbe Eyadema
with his son, calling it a coup d'etat and demanding
the west African constitution be followed.
"The African Union will not accept any
unconstitutional transition of power in Togo," a
spokeswoman for AU chair Olusegun Obasanjo, president
of Nigeria, told AFP in Abuja.
"President Obasanjo urged the Togolese people to
insist on respect for the nation's constitution in the
provision of interim leadership for Togo, that will
lead to the democratic election of a president of Togo
in accordance with the constitution."
While mourning the death of Eyadema, who with 38
years at the helm was Africa's longest serving leader,
AU commissioner Alpha Oumar Konare warned that the
pan-African body would not support any new head of
state who was not constitutionally-mandated to take
"What's happening in Togo needs to be called by its
name: it's a seizure of power by the military, it's a
military coup d'etat," Konare told AFP in the
"It is clear that the African Union cannot support
the seizure of power by force, so it is important that
we return to the constitution."
The armed forces, one of the pillars of Eyadema's
support over the nearly four decades he was in power
following a 1967 coup, announced on national
television Saturday that Eyadema's son Faure Eyadema
would assume the helm from this day forward.
Under Togo's constitution, however, the speaker of
parliament is next in line for succession.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
issued a statement expressing "deep sorrow" at
Eyadema's death but also urged that "all necessary
measures" be taken to ensure the proper succession.
"The secretary general extends his sincere
condolences to the bereaved family and to the
government and people of Togo," spokesman Fred
Eckhard said in a statement.
"The secretary general trusts that the Togolese
authorities will take all necessary measures to
preserve stability in the country and ensure a
peaceful transfer of power consistent with the
constitution and the rule of law."
Tributes to Eyadema were flowing in from Europe and
around Africa, with French President Jacques Chirac
calling him a "friend to France and a personal
"It is with profound sadness that I learn of the
sudden death of Gnassingbe Eyadema, president of
Togo," Chirac was quoted as saying in a statement.
"In these sad hours, I send my sincere condolences
to his family."
The European Union's development commissioner Louis
Michel learnt "with dismay" of the death of Eyadema,
and called for calm.
"Given the situation prevailing in the country
(Michel) called, at this grave hour, for all political
leaders to show calmness and invited them to stand
together and to continue the process of dialogue," an
EU statement said.
No official statement was immediately forthcoming
from Togo's neighbor Ghana, though a source in the
office of President John Kufuor said the president was
"extremely grieved" by the sudden death of Eyadema,
who died en route to France for emergency treatment.
There was also no immediate reaction from Niger
President Mamadou Tandja, installed last month as head
of ECOWAS, though sources close to the presidency
expected a statement early Sunday morning.