- The African Union (AU), in its strongest condemnation of any African authorities so far, has threatened to impose sanctions against the unconstitutional government of Togo. The AU says it will not recognise the de facto government of the son of late President Gnassingbé Eyadéma.
The AU's Peace and Security Council, at a meeting yesterday in Addis Ababa, issued a strong-worded communiqué regarding the situation in Togo. The Council "firmly" condemned "the manner through which the de facto Togolese authorities organised the succession in Togo," following the death of President Eyadéma on Saturday.
Mr Eyadéma's 39-year-old son, Faure Gnassingbé, was declared the new leader of Togo by the armed forces of that country. The constitution - which foresaw that the parliamentary speaker should have taken power to organise new presidential elections within 90 day - was sidelined by the military. It was later changed by the ruling party-dominated Lomé parliament.
According to the AU statement, the power handover to Mr Faure constituted "a blatant and unacceptable violation of the Togolese constitution," as well as of the AU declaration on unconstitutional government changes. The AU Security Council also firmly condemned the revision of the Togolese constitution "made by the de facto authorities, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Togolese constitution."
The AU statement however goes further than just condemning the facts on the ground. It "demands that the Togolese Armed Forces refrain from any interference in the political life of the country and comply with the relevant provisions of the Togolese Constitution."
Should its demands not be complied with, the AU threatens "to ensure a coherent and firm response to the unconstitutional change which occurred in Togo." It was already considering to "impose the sanctions envisaged" in its charter in case of unconstitutional changes, "should the de facto authorities fail to ensure the rapid restoration of constitutional legality."
The AU is following the condemnation of the Togolese coup earlier made by the US, EU, France, the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also the current AU President, has already voiced strong protests against what he called a "military coup" in Togo.
ECOWAS leaders are due to meet in Niamey, Niger, tomorrow and are expected to repeat the strong-worded protests and threats by the AU Peace and Security Council. According to a statement by Adam Ereli of the US State Department, the United States and the European Union (EU) are currently awaiting the response of ECOWAS to determine their further steps towards the new regime in Lomé.
- In the coming days, we will be working with our partners in the EU and in the African Union and in ECOWAS to arrive at a coordinated response to the events in Togo, Mr Ereli told reporters in Washington. "Obviously," he added, the US government was "carefully considering" what steps to take next.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday joined the international chorus of condemnation and urged Togo to "respect its own constitution." Through his spokesman, Mr Annan expressed concern that "the transfer of power that has taken place in Togo ... has not been done in full respect of the provisions of the Constitution."
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