West Africa rejects new Togo leader

An emergency summit of West African leaders has
refused to recognise the new leadership of Togo,
condemning the transfer of power as a coup.

Regional body Ecowas has threatened to impose
sanctions unless Togo returns to its original
constitution and starts planning presidential

Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late president, was
installed as leader after the constitution was

He has vowed to organise free and open elections as
soon as possible.

Leaders from the 15-member Economic Community of West
African States, meeting in Niger, decided the changes
in Togo's constitution, aimed at legalising the
military appointment of Mr Faure, did not disguise the
fact that what had taken place was a coup.

"The heads of states strongly condemn the intervention
of the military which resulted in the appointment as
president of the son of the deceased president," the
group said in a statement.

Election promise

A high-level delegation plans to go to Togo's capital,
Lome, by Friday to express their objections in person.

The African Union, whose chairman Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo led the Ecowas summit, has also said
it would consider imposing sanctions on Togo unless it
restores "constitutional legality".

    The expectation of many was that [Eyadema's] demise
would open up a new chapter in the history of Togo
Mohamed Ibn Chambas
Ecowas Executive Secretary
Mr Faure, in his first address to the nation, has
promised "free and transparent" elections "as soon as

But the BBC's Andrew Simmons says that while he spoke
of national assembly elections, Mr Faure did not make
any reference to elections for the head of state.

Under the original constitution, presidential
elections should be held within two months of a
president's death.

However, a constitutional amendment passed on Sunday -
the day after Gnassingbe Eyadema's death - allows Mr
Faure to serve out his father's term as president
until June 2008.

After negotiations with the European Union last year,
the late president promised to hold legislative
elections under reforms intended to level the
electoral playing field.

The EU froze aid to Togo in 1993 over the country's
lack of democracy and poor human rights record.

The opposition has rejected Mr Faure's offer of
elections, demanding that he step down.

Meanwhile, the International Organisation of
French-speaking countries has announced that it has
suspended Togo's membership.

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