Accessibility links

Togo's Ruling Party Orders Gnassingbe to Step Down

  • Joe Bavier

A top official of Togo's ruling party says the country's military-appointed leader, the son of the late long-ruling president, must step down. The statement comes as African leaders are considering further sanctions to restore constitutional order in the small West African nation.

The vice president of Togo's ruling party, George Dahoun Gigbor, says that President Faure Gnassingbe must resign.

Speaking in Lome, where he was attending an emergency meeting of officials from a half dozen political parties, the official told VOA it is time for Togolese authorities to bow to the will of the international community.

"I think that he has no choice. You know the [pressure] is so tight that he must withdraw," he said. "I'm sure. We are waiting for Natchaba, the speaker of the assembly, I think that he must come and take his place."

Mr. Gigbor says he expects the deposed head of the National Assembly, Fambare Natchaba, to return to Togo and take over the presidency for an interim period.

Mr. Natchaba, the legal successor to the late Gnassingbe Eyadema, has remained abroad since the military installed the late president's son, shortly after his father's death earlier this month.

Neighboring governments and the international community have rejected the transfer of power. The West African regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, has already decided to impose sanctions against Togo. And the African Union met Friday on enforcing its own sanctions soon.

The ruling party official, Mr. Gigbor, says the international community must understand it is very difficult to organize a peaceful transition after the abrupt death of Mr. Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years.

"Everybody knows that after the [death] of Eyadema, the things will not be simple. And effectively, they are very complex," Mr. Gigbor said. "And the conditions of nomination of Faure Gnassingbe are not accepted, and everybody's waiting for his position after the decision of ECOWAS and all the support across the world."

The emergency session is expected to see the ruling party name Mr. Gnassingbe as its candidate for the presidential elections, which are required to take place within 60 days.

The opposition in Togo has been organizing growing protests against the transfer of power. Opposition leaders doubt free and fair elections are possible, given what has happened since Mr. Eyadema died. Another rally is expected Saturday.