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29.04.2005 Togo

Ghana’s Embassy In Togo Under Fire

By Graphic

Lome, April 28, Graphic -- Togolese opposition coalition militants protesting against the election victory of Faure Gnassinge, on Wednesday vented their discontent against ECOWAS when they encircled the Ghana Embassy for several hours in Lome.

The timely intervention of the Togolese Security Forces averted what could have ended into something else.

The group of opposition militants wielding sticks, cudgels, clubs and other forms of missiles were dispersed by the security forces who arrived at the Embassy buildings in two military vehicles.

No tear gas was fired, but eyewitnesses account said the security forces escorted the embassy staff including the Ambassador, Mr Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu, home.

Mr Mensa-Bonsu is the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Togo.

Ghana Embassy officials confirmed the incident. On the same day, the Egyptian Ambassador to Togo was forced to spend the night in the Egyptian Embassy building because she feared being attacked.

Rising anti-French sentiment also led to the Security Forces escorting more than 30 French staff to their homes to avoid any attack on them by opposition militants on Tuesday.

In the resultant confusion many Lebanese businessmen have sought refuge in a local beach hotel in Lome after some of their shops and restaurants had been looted in Kodjoviakope and Nyekonakpoe neighbourhoods said to be opposition strongholds.

“The local Palm Beach Hotel, has become a refugee centre for the Lebanese”, an international journalist said.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports quote sources at the Lome central hospital at Tokoin and two other medical centres as saying that the latest confrontations between the opposition coalition supporters and security forces have left 11 people dead and 95 others seriously injured.

The protesters were demonstrating against results from Sunday's presidential polls, setting lorry tyres on fire and digging trenches across the major roads, which they had littered with rubbish.

Togo independent Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof Kissem Tchangai Walla, on Tuesday declared Faure Gnasingbe the overall winner of the presidential elections, polling 1,347,000 votes, about 60 per cent as against 841,000 votes, about 38 per cent by his closest rival, Emmanuel Bob Akitani of the opposition coalition. Faure won in four regions, Kara, Savanah, Plateaux and the Central Region of Togo.

Faure lost to Bob Akitani in the Lome capital, and the Maritime region in the southern region of Togo. But Akitani has rejected the results and proclaimed himself as the President of Togo. This has plunged Togo into greater confussion as Akitani also called on the army to revolt.

Togo's new Minister of Interior and Security, Mr Foli Bazi Katari, has warned that he would hold opposition leaders responsible for the acts of political violence of their supporters.

He also announced at a press conference in Lome on Wednesday that opposition militants had slaughtered three solders with matchetes.

Running battles between the Togolese Security Forces and opposition militants have assumed a new turn as the militants who were throwing stones and other missiles have now resorted to the use of cocktail Molotov.

The skirmishes have become fierce in the opposition strongholds of Be, Anfame, Bekpota and Dekon.

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