News and Information

Togo reversal vote 'ridiculous'
February 22, 2005

March in Lome, Togo, on Saturday 19 February 2005
Both sides have been holding marches in the capital Lome
Togo's opposition says it will continue its protest marches despite a vote by the National Assembly to reverse recently-made constitutional changes.

Changes were made to let President Gnassingbe Eyadema's son take power when his father died sparked an outcry.

The authorities said it was needed to prevent a dangerous power vacuum.

A spokesman for the opposition told French radio the "ridiculous" change of mind showed that those in charge had their "backs against the wall".

Jean-Pierre Fabre, spokesman for exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio's Union of Forces for Change party, said it was the third modification to the constitution in the last two years.

"I wonder if this is not a rearguard action because I do not understand how the Togolese authorities, caught in a web, sandwiched between international and domestic pressure, are going to manage," he told Radio France Internationale.

"I think it is the attitude of a group that has its back to the wall and that has no-one to turn to."

Togo's National Assembly voted on Monday to reverse the changes made when President Gnassingbe Eyadema died earlier this month.

The deputy speaker said it was only a fool who never changed his mind, and the MP introducing the bill said the measure would ensure national serenity in Togo and restore international confidence.

International outcry

Under the original constitution the parliamentary speaker should hold the presidency pending the election. He remains overseas.
Faure Gnassingbe
Faure has insisted he will stay in the presidential seat until elections
The constitution was amended following President Eyadema's death to legitimise Mr Faure's installation.

He initially said he would serve his father's full term until 2008, but then later promised to hold presidential elections within months.

This was rejected as insufficient by the regional grouping, Ecowas, which - with African Union backing - has imposed sanctions, including a travel ban on Togolese leaders and an arms embargo.

The European Union has urged Togo to restore constitutional order and the United States announced it would end all military assistance.

Opponents and supporters of the new leader held rival, peaceful, demonstrations at the weekend.

Radio France Internationale reported that another protest march by the opposition was planned for Wednesday in the capital Lome.


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