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Annan Criticizes Transfer of Power in Togo


On a day when the African Union suspended Togo, Secretary-General Annan used the country as an example of what he called "worrying developments" in the west African region. "As the current crisis in Togo reminds us, much remains to be done to establish peaceful, constitutional transfers of power as the region's norm. I urge all sides in Togo to exercise maximum restraint while efforts continue to find a peaceful solution to this crisis," he said.

In comments to the Security Council, the secretary-general expressed serious concern about conflicts in several west African countries. He suggested the key to improvement lies in better governance.

Mr. Annan's special envoy to the region, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said Togo is a reminder that a failure to address small crises in a fragile region can lead to larger crises. "Togo, where a clumsy alternation of power was followed by great confusion, is a clear illustration of the fragility of peace and stability in parts of west Africa. Togo should also remind us that unless we address small crises in a timely and coherent manner, these could easily be transformed into bigger and more complicated issues, as happened in Cote d'Ivoire," he said. "One of our concerns is also what would happen next October with scheduled elections in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. What possible impact on Sierra Leone?"

Faure Gnassingbe, previously a government minister in Togo, was put in power by the military after the abrupt death earlier this month of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who led the country for 38 years.

The Security Council issued a statement Friday expressing concern that power struggles involving members of security and armed forces could further destabilize the west African region.

The statement also noted that military and security forces are involved in smuggling of weapons, drugs and natural resources. It also called for greater attention to other problems rampant in west Africa, including human trafficking, extortion at roadblocks, money laundering, and the inability of governments to combat criminal activity.