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Togolese Human Rights Leader Criticizes Military's Actions

The head of Togo’s League for Human Rights, Adote Akwei, has condemned the transfer of power in his country to Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late president Gnassingbe Eyedema, who died Saturday in Paris. On Sunday, Togo's parliament approved a set of changes allowing Faure Gnassingbe to serve his father's term, which ends in 2008. Under Togo's constitution, the head of the National Assembly, Fambare Ouattara Natchaba, should have assumed power after the president's death and elections should have been organized within 60 days. The African Union calls the move a coup, but Togo’s military says the president’s son was named to prevent a power vacuum.

However, human rights leader Adote Akwei disagrees. He says at the time of the president’s death, the speaker of the National Assembly was on his way home to Togo from Europe to assume power, but was not allowed into the country. Mr. Akwei told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that in his opinion, the military has never supported democratization.

Mr. Akwei said he doubts there will be any type of military intervention in Togo, either by former colonial power France or by the African Union. But he said international support is necessary if the military and Faure Gnassingbe are to allow free and fair elections to determine the country’s future.