Togo Soldiers End Revolt but Press Regime for Concessions
Rebellious soldiers withdrew their tanks from Togo’s capital Saturday under threat of French intervention, ending the military’s fourth attempt in two months to topple the interim government.
But the soldiers loyal to longtime President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who was stripped of all but ceremonial powers last August, made clear that they expect concessions from Togo’s first civilian government in 24 years.
Prime Minister Joseph Koffigoh heads the interim administration charged with ending Eyadema’s rule and organizing free elections in this West African nation.
During the revolt that began Wednesday, the soldiers surrounded Koffigoh’s residence and seized the government radio and much of Lome after the prime minister banned Eyadema’s party. Doctors and journalists reported that soldiers killed at least 23 civilians.
Upon Koffigoh’s request for foreign intervention, France said it would send 300 soldiers from neighboring Benin to protect French citizens and battle coup leaders in this former colony.
Despite the Togo troops’ withdrawal, the French military in Benin announced Saturday that about 30 soldiers would be sent to Lome to guard the country’s embassy and strategic points in the city.
Lome residents, who had been hiding in their homes since the coup attempt began, cautiously ventured out again Saturday.
State radio, occupied by the troops since Wednesday, resumed normal broadcasts Saturday morning. A disc jockey switched from country-and-western music and 1960s French love songs to a Bob Marley hit, “Get Up, Stand Up,” that urges people to stand up for their rights.
An announcement said the West African nation’s frontiers and international airport were reopened. But there were none of the joyful demonstrations that marked the military’s retreats after previous coup attempts.
Koffigoh had hinted of some accommodation with the military even before the crisis was resolved, saying “a political recentering” is necessary and would be possible once the revolt ended.
Still, the military said Saturday that it is “only partially satisfied.” It reiterated its demand that Koffigoh’s government be dissolved.