Togo replaces army chief after April coup attempt


Togo has sacked its military chief General Zakari Nandja after a failed attempt by a group of soldiers to overthrow the president, it said on Monday, demoting him to a lowly ministry.

Reuters says Togo this month charged 18 soldiers linked with the plot, weeks after security forces in the major phosphate producer arrested former defence minister Kpatcha Gnassingbe on suspicion of plotting to topple his brother, President Faure Gnassingbe.

Nandja, armed forces chief of staff at the time, has been appointed Minister of Water, Cleaning and Village Water Resources. He has been replaced by Air Commodore Essofa Ayeva, until now the chief of staff at the president’s office.

“This political and military reshuffle in Togo comes weeks after an attempted coup d’etat,” the government said on its website The statement did not accuse Nandja of any links to the alleged plot.

The president of the former French colony on the West African coast cancelled a planned trip to China in April after foreign security services warned him of a coup attempt.

Rivalry has simmered between Kpatcha and Faure, sons of Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country with an iron fist for decades, since Faure was appointed leader by the military after the former president’s death in 2005.

He then won violent, flawed elections in the same year. The next presidential election is due to be held in 2010.