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President's brother arrested for conspiracy

Text by Guillaume LOIRET

Latest update : 2009-04-15

Kpatcha Gnassingbe, the brother of Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe and strongarm of the presidential family, has been arrested and charged with plotting a coup d’etat, bringing political tension in the country to a boiling point.

Kpatcha was caught at the gates of the US embassy, where the government alleges he was seeking refuge.

His arrest followed an exchange of fire at his home on Sunday, during which he was able to make an escape.

Kpatcha was, until now, an influential member of the presidential family and Togo’s defense minister from 2005 to 2007.

According to sources close to the family, a bitter rivalry had been growing for some time between Faure, 42, and his younger brother, who is 39.

Faure, who was educated in France, is seen as a discreet and punctilious ruler. His brother, on the other hand, has a reputation for being brutal and impulsive, with strong contacts within the country’s armed forces.

Since Faure’s election as president in 2005 – an event marred by accusations of fraud and violence – there have been growing rumours of a coup d’etat led by Kpatcha.

In 2007, Kpatcha was elected head of the Kara region, the fiefdom of former President Gnassingbe Eyadema, and has since become one of the big guns of the ruling Togo People’s Party (RPT).

Togo’s chief prosecutor said on France’s RFI international radio station that Kpatcha was suspected of starting a coup.

Kpatcha Gnassinbé hotly denied these accusations on Tuesday, declaring his commitment to justice and adding, “Those who oppose me and my brother are outsiders, those who want to infiltrate the family.” Five officers close to Kpatcha were questioned over an alleged conspiracy.



Date created : 2009-04-15