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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Togo turmoil as poll delay urged
Supporters of Faure Gnassingbe
Mr Faure's campaign has been well financed
Togo's Interior Minister Francois Boko has been sacked, after calling for the postponement of Sunday's presidential elections, warning of civil war.

At a news conference in the middle of the night, Mr Boko said it would be "suicidal" to hold the poll as planned.

Interim President Abass Bonfoh then confirmed the polls would be held on Sunday and sacked Mr Boko. The opposition also wants a postponement.

There have been violent clashes between rival supporters in recent weeks.

The elections were called following the death of Mr Faure's father, long-serving President Gnassingbe Eyadema and failed attempts to let Mr Faure take over without an election.

'Extraordinary'

"I have a mission to organise elections within 60 days in line with the constitution. So that I can continue, I'm going to have to reshuffle my government. The interior minister will be changed," Mr Bonfoh announced, saying he was "surprised" by Mr Boko's call.

Opposition supporter
The opposition says the polls will not be fair
"The security forces have taken the necessary measures to ensure the presidential election will take place peacefully. Public order will be maintained," he said.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Togo says Mr Boko is a former military man and a political heavyweight, whose ministry is responsible for conducting the election.

She says the timing of the events was "extraordinary" - just two days before the polls.

At his news conference, called at 0200 local time, Mr Boko produced a seven-page document setting out his plan for a government of national unity to last for one or two years and with a prime minister, drawn from the ranks of the opposition, serving under the president.

Pressure

The call was praised by main opposition candidate Emmanuel Bob Akitani, who said it was a "very courageous act" and urged Mr Bonfoh to be equally brave and postponed the election.

The opposition has always argued that electoral reforms were needed to make the polls free and fair and so a postponement was needed.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan this week appealed for calm, urging all political leaders to avoid any actions or statements that could incite or contribute to violence.

He also urged the Togolese authorities to do all they could to enable people to vote freely and peacefully.

Exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio returned to Togo to campaign last week-end but is barred from running for president because of controversial residency requirements.

He is campaigning for Mr Akitani, vice-president of his Union of Forces for Change party. The polls were called after international pressure and domestic protests led Mr Faure to step down after being sworn in as president.


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