Togolese authorities charged President Faure Gnassingbe's brother Wednesday for plotting to overthrow the government after arresting him as he sought asylum at the US embassy following raids on his home.
The West African nation has been abuzz with talk of tensions between the brothers since an assault on the home of Kpatcha Gnassingbe on Sunday night by elite troops that reportedly left two soldiers dead.Amid the heightened tensions, President Gnassingbe called off a trip to China he had been scheduled to start Sunday.
"Investigations have revealed serious and corroborating evidence" that the president's brother was the kingpin of a coup plot, state prosecutor Robert Bakai said.
He said "an investigation has been opened for a bid to undermine state security, gathering criminals, rebellion, premeditated violence using firearms and complicity in premeditated violence."
Paramilitary forces launched a fresh operation at the home on Tuesday but Gnassingbe, a former defence minister and still an influential member of the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RTP) party, was not there.
Authorities tightened security on Wednesday around diplomatic missions in the capital, Lome, and Gnassingbe was detained as he tried to enter the US embassy, diplomatic sources said.
Gnassingbe was refused asylum, the US embassy in Lome said, adding that Togolese gendarmes then came to the mission with an arrest warrant.
The embassy however stressed that Togo should "respect the constitutional rights of Kpatcha Gnassingbe" and said it was "imperative that the Togolese government respects the rights of the people, political leaders and officials."