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Togo Opposition Protests Military Appointment of New President

  • Gabi Menezes

Opposition parties in Togo are calling for more protests against the military's appointment of the late president's son to succeed him.

Six opposition parties called for the people of Togo to protest the appointment of Faure Gnassingbe, who was installed as president by the military following his father's death earlier this month.

An opposition leader, Jean-Pierre Fabre, told VOA that, the opposition also wants to hold a peaceful protest march.

He urged the Togolese people to join the demonstrations, despite the deaths of three protesters Saturday during clashes with security forces. Mr. Fabre says Togolese are obliged to by their constitution to protest the coup, even if it means sacrificing their lives.

Mr. Fabre says the opposition is investigating Saturday's deaths. The opposition says police fired into the crowds of protesters.

Interior Minister Francois Boko confirmed that three people were killed. He said protesters surrounded several police officers and tried to take their guns.

The army installed Faure Gnassingbe as Togo's new leader after the sudden death of his father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, earlier this month after 38 years in power. The new president condemned the deaths and ordered an investigation.

President Gnassingbe has faced heavy international criticism since he took power.

The West African group, ECOWAS, has called for a return to the former constitution, which was amended to allow Mr. Gnassingbe to serve out his late father's term until 2008. The group met with a Togolese delegation Saturday.

Togo's government says it understands the ECOWAS reservations, but its main concern is to ensure peace and security.

Mr. Fabre of the opposition says he believes the former colonial power France needs to be more assertive.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed concern late Saturday over the deteriorating situation in Togo, and urged restraint on all sides, while efforts continue to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The chairman of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konare, also condemned the repression of peaceful demonstrations and the intimidation of journalists and jamming of independent radio stations.