- Authorities in Togo are strengthening the case against the President's brother Kpatcha Gnassingbé, who is formally charged with planning a coup against his brother, Faure Gnassingbé. A major arms arsenal has been found at his house.
Kpatcha Gnassingbé - a former Defence Minister, brother of the current President, son of Togo's long-time Dictator Gnassingbé Eyadema and an influential member of Togo's ruling party - on Wednesday was arrested as he tried to seek refuge at the US Embassy in Lomé. His arrest followed a shootout at his Lomé house between government troops and his private armed guards on Sunday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Togolese state prosecutors charged the President's brother for "plotting to overthrow the government," according to government sources.
"Investigations have revealed serious and corroborating evidence" that the President's brother was the kingpin of a coup plot, state prosecutor Robert Bawoubadi Bakaď said. "An investigation has been opened for a bid to undermine state security, gathering criminals, rebellion, premeditated violence using firearms and complicity in premeditated violence," the state prosecutor added.
Today, authorities put on display an arms arsenal said to be found at the private residence of Kpatcha Gnassingbé. This included military vehicles, assault rifles, AK-47s, tear-gas grenades, satellite telephones, and bullet-proof vests. According to the state prosecutor, these arms were stored to prepare for a coup d'état.
State prosecutor Bakaď indicated that parts of the Togolese army could be involved in the alleged coup plot headed by the President's brother. Authorities are now investigating named persons for their possible engagement, and so far, "five senior army officers and several civilians" have been detained in connection with the case, according to government sources.
The President's brother today denied all knowledge of a coup plot. He claims his guards only answered the sudden fire of a group of armed men that stormed his house on Sunday, thus seeking security at the US Embassy.
State prosecutor Bakaď answered the allegations by Kpatcha Gnassingbé, saying the operation against his Lomé house had been "well prepared". He defended the use of violence by referring to a threat to state security, adding that the presumed existence of heavy arms necessitated a surprise action.
Despite the coup claims, the situation in Lomé is generally calm. Authorities however say they have "tightened security" in the capital. President Gnassingbé also cancelled a planned state visit to China as the plot was unveiled.
The Gnassingbé family has held power in Togo since 1967, with the father of the current President turning the country into one of the fiercest dictatorships in Africa. Faure Gnassingbé took power in a coup after his father's death in 2005, later legitimising his power through a flawed election.
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