Togo's Faure Gnassingbé says elections will be held in 60 days

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Saturday, February 19, 2005 Following pressure from African leaders, Togo's President Faure Gnassingbé has announced on Friday that new elections will be held within 60 days. Mr. Gnassingbé was selected as the successor of his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma, Africa's longest serving leader, who passed away two week ago.

"I have decided in the higher interests of the nation to continue the process of transition in line with the constitution of 1992 ... and organise the presidential election within the stipulated time of 60 days," Mr. Gnassingbé told in a televised address on a state channel. He said that he intends to remain in power until the elections.

Mr. Gnassingbé's selection with the army's help — in contrast to the process outlined by the Togolese constitution — has drawn sharp criticisms from world leaders and Togo's population. Despite his decision to hold elections the criticism continued. On Saturday Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the chairman of Economic Community of West African States, said that Togo faces "immediate sanctions" if Mr. Gnassingbé did not step down. According to the constitution in effect at the time when Gnassingbé Eyadéma died, upon the president's death power is transferred to the head of the national assembly.

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