Nigerian outrage at Togo 'snub'

Togo's transfer of power has been condemned as a coup
Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has cancelled his visit to Togo to mediate in a constitutional crisis, after his officials were turned away.

Mr Obasanjo will also recall Nigeria's ambassador, his spokeswoman said.

 Togo has however said that a plane carrying Mr Obasanjo's advance team was merely diverted to another city.

 In the capital, Lome, riot police have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters.

 West African leaders have condemned the weekend's transfer of power as a coup.


South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has also condemned it as "a charade".

 The Lome demonstrators set fire to tyres, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air above the opposition stronghold of Be.


"We know how to shoot guns and we are ready to fight," said Kofi Awokou, a 30-year-old mechanic.

 It is not clear whether other West African presidents will go ahead with Friday's planned mediation mission without Mr Obasanjo.

 Faure Gnassingbe was installed as president following the death of his father on Saturday, and the constitution was hastily changed to legitimise the dynastic succession.

 The authorities have also closed down a radio station which broadcast an interview in which an opposition leader Harry Olympio allegedly incited "revolt and hatred".

 The Nigerian delegation had been heading to Lome to demand that Togo revert to its original constitution, meaning presidential elections must be held within two months.

 "On Thursday evening the plane carrying the advance team of President Obasanjo was refused landing in Lome," Mr Obasanjo's spokeswoman Remi Oyo said, describing the action as "hostile".

 "The latest action by Togo authorities might therefore compel the commencement of sanctions," she said.


However, Togo Information Minister Pitang Tchalla denied that the Nigerian flight had been refused entry, saying the flight had merely been diverted to the northern city of Kara, where the meeting had been rescheduled.

 "We do not understand why the Obasanjo delegation does not want to come to Kara," he said.

Faure Gnassingbe succeeded his father as president

Mr Obasanjo had been due to meet fellow leaders from the regional body, Ecowas, in neighbouring Benin, before flying to Togo later on Friday.

 The organisation has not been deflected by the new leader's pledge to hold "free and transparent" elections "as soon as possible", the BBC's West Africa correspondent Andrew Simmons reports.

 Mr Faure did not specify whether the elections would be the scheduled parliamentary polls or whether he would stand down and hold presidential elections, as Ecowas requests.

 The international community has also condemned the power transfer and Togo has been suspended from the community of French-speaking nations, La Francophonie.