afrol News, 6 February - The President Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, Africa's longest-ruling leader, died Saturday as he was being rushed to Europe for treatment of a heart attack, officials said. His son, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, was named the new leader, the armed forces of Togo announced.
President Gnassingbé Eyadema, 69, "suffered a heart attack early Saturday in his hometown of Piya in south-eastern Togo and later died," said Barry Moussa Barkue, special adviser to the Togolese President.
Hours later, "Togo's military high command announced on state television that President Eyadema's 35-year-old son, Faure Gnassingbé, is the West African nation's new president." This was reported by the Togolese government's website yesterday.
According to reports by the UN, the armed forces in practical terms have taken control of Togo. The military was reported to have "immediately suspended the constitution" to be able to name Mr Gnassingbé the country's new President in stead of the Vice President.
Speaking on state radio, Togo's Prime Minister Koffi Sama called upon the security forces to keep law and order. He also announced all land and air borders to the tiny West African country had been closed. "All the country's political, social, religious leaders must avoid any act likely to plunge the country into a
New leader Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé: «New President of the Republic of Togo.»
A little later, General Zachari Nandja, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, also read a statement on state television. "The Togolese armed forces swear allegiance to Faure Gnassingbé as President of the Republic of Togo," said General Nandja, who was flanked by the country's other top military commanders.
President Eyadema has ruled Togo since with an iron hand since 1967, when he came to power following Africa's first post-colonial coup. His dictatorial government has been accused of terrible human rights violations and Togo has been barred from receiving foreign development aid due to the lack of democracy in the country.
Foreigners were today advised against travelling to Togo "until the situation clarifies," the British Foreign Office said in a statement. In any case, all borders, ports and airports are reported to have been closed. "Members of the British community in Togo should keep a low profile until the situation becomes clearer," London emphasised.
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