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Sanctions On Togo

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Togo has been suspended from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. The fourteen other members have also recalled their ambassadors from Lome, Togo's capital, and imposed sanctions on the government.

The sanctions include a travel ban on Togo's leaders and an arms embargo. ECOWAS acted in response to Togo's military placing Faure Gnassingbe in power the day after the death of his father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema.

President Eyadema was an authoritarian ruler installed by the Togolese military in 1967. Despite the facade of multiparty elections instituted in the early 1990s, the government continued to be dominated by President Eyadema's Rally of the Togolese People. Under his leadership, Togo came under fire for human rights abuses. The government has resisted demands for democratization.

The installation of President Eyadema's son was accomplished through a blatant manipulation of Togo's constitution. More than twenty-thousand protestors took to the streets of Lome demanding that Mr. Gnassingbe step down.

The fifty-two members of the African Union have also condemned Mr. Grassingbe's succession, and banned Togo's government from participating in the group's activities. U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says Togo's government should "move peacefully and rapidly towards free and fair elections":

"The manner in which the succession was handled is of concern not just to us but to the states of the region, first and foremost."

President George W. Bush says, "Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite." The people of Togo deserve free and fair elections.