IMAGE: FAURE GNASSINGBE
Nic Bothma  /  Sipa Press FILE
Faure Gnassingbe, installed as the president of Togo on Feb. 5 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, announced his resignation Friday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 2/25/2005 6:59:58 PM ET 2005-02-25T23:59:58

Togo’s military-installed president said late Friday that he was stepping down after three weeks in office because of mounting pressure at home and abroad.

“I’ve taken the decision to step down from the office of president in the interest of Togo,” President Faure Gnassingbe said on state radio.

Gnassingbe had been under growing pressure from the United States, the United Nations and West African leaders to resign since he was installed Feb. 5 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country for 38 years and was Africa’s longest-serving leader.

Sanctions imposed
Gnassingbe’s refusal to step down had prompted the Economic Community of West African States to impose an arms embargo, a diplomatic freeze and a travel ban on the Togolese government. The African Union announced it was joining in the sanctions and suspended the country from all AU activities.

Four protesters were killed in clashes with security forces during riots in the week following Gnassingbe’s appointment. Togo had banned all political activity immediately after Eyadema’s death, saying it wanted to preserve calm for national mourning, but lifted the ban last week — 45 days earlier than planned.

Parliament at first said Gnassingbe would serve out his father’s term — until 2008. But on Feb. 18, Gnassingbe agreed to hold elections within 60 days, as the original constitution had stipulated if a president died in office.

Togo, a former French colony that gained independence in 1960, has an annual per capita income of $270 from an economy based on cocoa, coffee production and mining. The country is slightly smaller than West Virginia and sits between Ghana and Benin on the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.

The resignation announcement came after conflicting signals about Gnassingbe’s intentions.

Conflicting signals precede announcement
A diplomat at African Union headquarters in Ethiopia told the Associated Press that the Togo leader would announce his resignation at the party caucus, and a Libyan official who was present at a meeting late Thursday between Gnassingbe and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said the Togo leader told Gadhafi that he would step down after returning to Togo.

But earlier Friday, Gnassingbe accepted his party’s nomination to run for president, but made no mention of resigning in advance of the mid-April vote.

“I accept with all humility and modesty the honor done me by the ruling party to become its leader and presidential candidate,” the 39-year old had told cheering Togo Peoples Rally faithful.

“We’ve got to mobilize and organize so that we don’t let power slip out of our hands,” he said.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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