Up to 50 killed as Togolese troops overthrow regime



 

 

Mark Huband in Abidjan and agencies in Lomé

The Guardian, 29 November 1991

Togolese troops yesterday overthrew the country’s four-month transitional government in a coup which may have left up to 50 dead after a day of street battles in the capital, Lomé.

Troops determined to reimpose Togo’s former military dictator, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, yesterday surrounded the residence of the prime minister, Kokou Koffigoh, with tanks but were initially beaten back by loyal soldiers.

Telephone and telex links were cut by mid-morning and airports and land borders were closed.

Last night the rebels imposed an overnight curfew on the capital and demanded the restoration of the president’s former ruling party, saying in a communique “otherwise the entire city will be ashes”.

President Eyadema was stripped of all but ceremonial powers at the country’s national political conference in August. His political party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) was banned on Tuesday, a move which led to the military rebellion.

Eyadema loyalists seized the national radio ‘station early yesterday. Witnesses in Lomé said they saw soldiers fire on Koffigoh supporters near government offices, killing eight.

According to a military source in Togo, the army is divided in its support for the coup and Mr Koffigoh is attempting to use soldiers loyal to him to mediate with the renegade troops. At least 4,000 members of the country’s 6,000-strong army come from President Eyadema’s Kabye tribe, which dominates the senior ranks.

The source identified the coup leader as Major Yomo Djoua, a confidant of Gen Eyadema and one of three army officers awaiting trial for attempting to kidnap the prime minister on November 2.

The coup leaders broadcast communiques demanding the dissolution of the transitional legislature lie and of all political parties.

 

© Guardian Newspapers. All rights reserved