France urges Togo return to constitutional order

20th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 20 (AFP) - France on Sunday called for a quick restoration of "full constitutional legality" in its former colony Togo, amid international pressure for military-installed president Faure Gnassingbe to step down.

PARIS, Feb 20 (AFP) - France on Sunday called for a quick restoration of "full constitutional legality" in its former colony Togo, amid international pressure for military-installed president Faure Gnassingbe to step down.

The French foreign ministry, in a statement, also urged the organisation of "free, democratic and transparent" presidential and legislative elections "within the time limits stipulated by the Togolese constitution".

"Following decisions taken by ECOWAS yesterday on Togo, France reaffirms its full support for actions taken by this organisation to obtain a return to full constitutional legality" in the west African country, the ministry said.

International pressure was mounting on Togo's military-installed leader Faure Gnassingbe to step down after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to suspend Lome's membership in the regional grouping.

The army installed 39-year-old Gnassingbe shortly after the death on February 5 of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled the tiny impoverished nation with an iron fist for 38 years.

On Saturday, the United States said it did not recognise his regime, and the European Commission on Sunday urged Togo to restore constitutional order "without delay", saying the army had illegally put Gnassingbe in power.

While stopping short of calling on Gnassingbe to resign, the French foreign ministry said Paris "deplores the fact that it was not possible to resolve the question of interim presidential succession with full respect for the constitution".

Togo's parliament changed the constitution to allow Gnassingbe to take power after sacking its speaker, who would have governed for up to 60 days pending new polls. Gnassingbe was sworn in as president on February 7.

The legislature then extended the interim president's term from 60 days until 2008, when Eyadema's mandate was to expire.

The French foreign ministry did say it had "positively noted" Gnassingbe's pledge to organise presidential elections within 60 days.

On Saturday, 25,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in the Togolose capital Lome against Gnassingbe's rule, the biggest such march since he was put in power.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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