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11.02.2005 General News

President Kufuor returns home from Cotonou

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Accra, Feb.11, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor and four other Heads of State from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) could not travel to Togo on Friday to honour a schedule meeting with the authorities in a country struck by simmering conflict, following the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema last Saturday. The five Heads of State were to present a resolution on Togo following a day's extra-ordinary Summit of the sub-regional body in Niamey, Niger over the political crisis.
The delegation decided not to visit Togo following the last minute change of venue from Lome the capital to the Northern city of Kara by the Togolese government.
The Heads of State include: President Mamdou Tandja of Niger, President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
They had therefore mandated the ECOWAS Chairman, President Tandja and the Executive Secretary, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas to meet the Togolese leadership in Niamey, Niger to convey the resolution to them. Briefing journalists at the Kotoka International Airport on the stalemate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs who accompanied President Kufuor said the Togolese authorities explained to the Heads of State and Government on phone that the venue had to be changed to Kara because of a planned anti-government demonstration in Lome, which could have marred the meeting.
He said the emissary from ECOWAS found the explanation untenable and therefore decided not honour the visit.
The Foreign Minister said the Togolese authorities told the delegation that they had apologised to the Nigerian authorities for turning away the plane, which carried an advance party of the Nigerian President Obasanjo.
Nana Akufo-Addo said inspite of the inability of the Heads of State and Government to meet with the Togolese authorities, the trip had enabled them to re-affirm the Niamey Declaration that stated clearly the need for Togo to revert to constitutional rule.
He said if the Togolese authorities refused to abide by the Niamey Declaration, ECOWAS would have no choice but to impose sanctions on the country.

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