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President of Togo dies; son steps in

LOME, Togo -- The president of Togo, Africa's longest-ruling leader, died yesterday as he was being brought to Europe to be treated for a heart attack, officials said. His son was named the new leader.

President Gnassingbe Eyadema, 69, suffered a heart attack early yesterday in his hometown of Piya in southeastern Togo, said Barry Moussa Barkue, special adviser to the president.

Hours later, Togo's military high command announced on state television that Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbe, is the West African nation's new president.

According to Togo's constitution, the speaker of Parliament, Fanbare Tchaba, succeeds the president in the event of his death. It was not clear why that did not happen yesterday.

The station later broadcast images of army chief of staff General Zakari Nandja and other generals swearing an oath of allegiance to Faure Gnassingbe.

Eyadema has ruled Togo since 1967, when he came to power after Africa's first postcolonial coup. Only Cuba's Fidel Castro has been in power longer.

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