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Togo Transition

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

In recent years, the government of Togo has been criticized for human rights abuses and voting irregularities in parliamentary and presidential elections. Now, Togo is being condemned for flagrantly manipulating its own constitution. Gnassingbe Eyadema, the authoritarian ruler of Togo, died on February 5th. His Rally for the Togolese People party has maintained one-party rule for thirty-eight years. The day after his death, Togo's military chose Mr. Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbe, to be the country's new leader.

Togo's constitution said that if the president is unable to govern, the speaker of Togo's parliament takes over for up to sixty days until new elections are held. But the parliament removed Fabare Tschaba, the speaker, who was out of the country, and replaced him with Faure Gnassingbe. Faure Gnassingbe then became president, and the constitution was amended to say that he could stay in power until 2008, when the next elections are scheduled to occur.

The European Union called the transfer of power in Togo a military coup. The sixteen countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, say they do not recognize the new president of Togo. And the fifty-three nations of the African Union warned that sanctions could be imposed against Togo if government authorities do not respect constitutional rule.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that the U.S. is calling on Togo's government "to fully cooperate with ECOWAS, the African Union, and other members of the international community and to 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. There are efforts underway to address the manner in which this transfer of power was handled and I think what we're looking to come out of this is a collective recognition of what peaceful, constitutional, transparent and credible procedures are and how they can best be followed."

President George W. Bush says, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." This applies to all countries, including Togo.