The demand on Friday came after the presidents of five of Togo‘s neighbours met in Cotonou, Benin, with the executive chairmen of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss the mounting constitutional crisis.
The leaders had planned to fly on to the Togo capital Lome to deliver the message to Togo‘s new leader Faure Gnassingbe in person, but cancelled the trip after the young president attempted to switch the venue to one of his northern strongholds.
“They do not want to go to Kara so as not to give the impression of legitimising the regime of Faure Gnassingbe,” said ECOWAS executive secretary Muhammad ibn Chambas, announcing the cancellation of the trip.
The Togolese leader will now have to decide whether to travel to Niger‘s capital Niamey on Saturday to meet President Mamadou Tandja, current ECOWAS chairman, and explain his five-day-old power-grab.
New Togo President Gnassingbe
The 39-year-old was installed by the army as leader of Togo‘s four to five million citizens on Saturday after the death of his autocratic father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, and has promised to hold legislative elections.
His unconstitutional elevation – power should have gone to the speaker of parliament – has been rubber-stamped by ruling party lawmakers, but has been slammed abroad as a setback for democracy and good governance in Africa.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, a significant figure in the region and the current African Union chairman, has led calls for Gnassingbe to step down and on Friday appeared to have convinced neighbouring leaders to toughen their stance.
“The heads of state reiterated their total rejection of this coup d’etat and once again urged the Togolese authorities to reverse their unconstitutional act,” said a statement.