10.03.2005 General News

Faure Gnassingbe confers with Kufuor

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Accra, March 10, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday held closed door discussions with Mr Faure Gnassingbe, son of former Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, at the Castle, Osu.

Briefing newsmen later, Mr Gnassingbe said he was in Accra to officially inform the Government about the death of his father and extend an invitation to the funeral in Togo this weekend.

President Eyadema, 69, died on Saturday, February 5, as he was being flown to France for urgent medical treatment.

Africa's longest-serving ruler, the late President Eyadema had ruled Togo, a former French West African colony, since 1967 when he rose to power in a military coup.

He was then elected three times in multi-party polls, the last in 2003 after amending the constitution.

Born to a peasant family in northern Togo, the late President Eyadema helped bring down post-independence President, Sylvanus Olympio in 1963 before launching his own coup d'etat four years later against Nicolas Grunitsky.

A general who rose through the ranks of the French colonial army with stints in Benin, Indochina, Algeria and Niger, he was awarded the Legion d'honneur, France's highest honour.

Shortly after the announcement of President Eyadema's death, the army announced that his son Faure Gnassingbe was taking over, a move that was contrary to the constitution, and denounced as a coup by the African Union (AU).

The army said that the absence of Speaker Fambare Ouattara Natchaba from Togo at the time of the death was the reason why it had decided to hand power to his son, who is 39.

Faure has since stepped aside as Togo's interim president and announced his intention to contest the presidential polls scheduled for next month.

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