LOME, Togo -- Togo's military-installed president said late yesterday 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 had ruled the country for 38 years and was Africa's longest-serving leader.
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 that it was joining in the sanctions and suspended the country from all AU activities.
Parliament at first said the 39-year-old 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 has an annual per capita income of $270 from an economy based on cocoa, coffee production, and mining. It is located between Ghana and Benin on the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.
Earlier yesterday, Gnassingbe accepted his party's nomination to run for president, but made no mention of resigning in advance of the mid-April vote.