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AU Reiterates Support for West African Efforts to End Togo Crisis

The African Union's peace and security council has met in Addis Ababa to restate its support for a return to constitutional rule in Togo. It has also called on other African countries to impose sanctions on Lome. Togo has been under intense international pressure since the military installed Faure Gnassingbe as president after his father died earlier this month. The West African group ECOWAS has already suspended Togo and imposed travel sanctions on its officials. The African Union, the European Union, and the United States have urged Mr. Gnassingbe to resign ahead of new elections expected to take place within 60 days. So has the vice president of Togo's ruling party, George Dahoun Gignor, saying the embattled leader has no choice. AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako told VOA reporter William Eagle that if Mr. Gnassingbe did not relinquish power prior to elections, the polls would likely not be considered legal.

Mr. Orjiako of the Africa Union says the group backs ECOWAS sanctions on Togo, which include a ban on travel by Lome officials to other West African states. He adds that in a similar vein, Togo has been banned from several AU activities.

This past week, Mr. Gnassingbe traveled to Libya and Gabon in search of political support. Mr. Orjiako said the AU expects all members of the AU to adhere to decisions made by the group’s peace and security council regarding Togo. He also indicated that AU states are free to pursue their own foreign policies, but he expects those policies to compliment – and not differ from – AU decisions.

Mr. Orjiako also dismissed critics who say the AU is cracking down on Togo, but failing to publicly criticize other authoritarian governments, including Zimbabwe and Gabon. The AU spokesman says such critics are ill informed, and controversy surrounding the continued rule of President Robert Mugabe in Harare can not be compared to the situation in Togo