Togo's president bows to pressure for election

Yielding to diplomatic and internal pressure, Togo's new President, Faure Gnassingbe, has promised to hold elections for his post within two months, ending his military-enforced succession to power following the death of his father.

"In the superior interests of the nation and of the country's constitution, I promise to hold elections within 60 days, without delay," Mr Gnassingbe said on state television. But he added that he was ruling in line with the constitution and indicated he had no intention to step down before the vote.

"I exercise provisionally the functions of president of the republic, as the constitution stipulates," Mr Gnassingbe said, in a long-awaited address to the nation. "Invested with the presidential role ... we ensure the continuity of the state pending the election of a new president of the republic." He did not indicate whether he intended to run for the post.

Togo's army announced Mr Gnassingbe's appointment to power on 5 February, hours after the sudden death of his father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, from a heart attack. After seizing power 38 years ago, Mr Eyadema had governed as a dictator before legalising political parties in 1991. He then won three elections, although they were marred by accusations of violence and electoral fraud. He had been the world's longest-ruling leader after Fidel Castro.

His son's appointment as president and a subsequent retroactive amendment of the constitution to make the move technically legal, sparked European and US condemnation, African warnings of sanctions, and deadly clashes between protesters and security forces.

News of his concession came late yesterday, and brought no immediate reaction in the dark streets of Lome, Togo's capital. Opposition parties had pledged to renew protests today against Mr Gnassingbe's succession, raising the prospect of more violence. Clashes last weekend killed four protesters, according to government sources.

Togo has been under European and other sanctions since the early 1990s, when Mr Eyadema's security forces allegedly shot and killed an unknown number of pro-democracy demonstrators.

Mr Gnassingbe thanked the African Union and a West Africa leaders' bloc - whose most prominent member, Nigeria, led pressure on him to step aside.

Before his surprise announcement, Mr Gnassingbe had insisted that he would serve until 2008, which was when his father's term had been scheduled to end.

Earlier yesterday Togo lifted a two-week-old ban on political activity, imposed in the name of ensuring proper calm for national mourning of Mr Eyadema's death.

Mr Gnassingbe's about-face is thought to be at least partly as a response to the pressure from opposition groups including the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), whose leader, Emmanuel Akitani-Bob headed a coalition of civil rights activists in a mass protest over the past two days against what they described as a virtual "coup" by Mr Gnassingbe.

Mr Akitane-Bob won 34 per cent of the vote in the last election in Togo, held in 2003. However the results of the election, which saw Mr Eyadema returned with 57 per cent of the vote, were dismissed as a fraud by opposition parties due to the disqualification of the exiled former head of the UFC, Gilchrist Olympio.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen