Annan hails decision by Togo's leader to step down, pledges UN support for political transition

26 February 2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has pledged support for Togo's political transition now that the country's leader, Faure Gnassingbe, has stepped down just weeks after taking power when his father, who was then president, died.

Mr. Gnassignbe's latest move paves the way for the National Assembly to designate an Interim Head of State who will oversee the organization of the forthcoming elections in accordance with the Constitution.

It also prompted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift the sanctions it had imposed on Togo.

Mr. Annan welcomed these developments in a statement released by his spokesman late Friday. “He reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support current efforts towards facilitating a smooth transition in Togo,” spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Togo's political crisis began when its President, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died on 5 February, leaving a power vacuum he had filled for decades. In a break with the constitutional succession process, his son, a cabinet minister, was appointed Head of State.

The constitution, which required that the President of the National Assembly become acting president until fresh elections were held within 60 days, was hastily amended, sparking violence in the capital, Lomé.

When regional talks aimed at ending Togo's constitutional crisis hit an impasse, ECOWAS suspended Togo's membership last weekend.


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