Friday, August 28, 2015


Modern apartments in Togo are cheaper than in Miami

Once briefly Danish, then German, the British and French seized what was then called Togoland at the start of World War 1, and the British were given it by mandate of the League of Nations when the great carve-up of the world was ratified in 1922. The British found the task easier by combining it with the Gold Coast next door, until that became Ghana, and then by granting it independence in 1960. The first President, Sylvanus Olympio, was assassinated in 1963, and his successor, Nicolas Grunitzky, ousted in a bloodless coup by Gnassinbenge Eyadema, who immediately outlawed all political parties, nationalised the country’s main source of income - phosphates - and established himself as a dictator, even surviving a coup attempt by French troops in 1985, for which the opposition leader, Gilchrist Olympio, the son of the assassinated first President, was tried in his absence, found guilty of complicity, and sentenced to death – living as he was in exile, the sentence was not able to be carried out, though kidnapping attempts were made.

By the 1990s serious resentment, if not yet serious opposition, led Eyadema to create a transitional administration, and a new constitution, only for it transpire that he meant transition to his next term of office, while the resenters thought he meant transition to some form of democracy. When they dared to state this in the new parliament, Eyadema dissolved them, in the abstract in the case of the parliament, in the physical in the case of the resenters, thousands of whom simply fled to whichever neighbouring state was nearest; and duly, in 1998, Eyadema was re-elected, and denied absolutely the accusation by the UN-OAUI that executions, torture and the systematic violation of human rights was the normal way-of-life in Togo. Opposition leader Yawovu Agboyibo dared to make this accusation publicly, for which he was jailed for six months for libelling the Prime Minister, though technically he should have been released early, as you cannot be guilty of libelling a Prime Minister who is no longer Prime Minister, who has just been sacked to ensure the President wins the next round of elections, as again he duly did, and then again in 2003, having put a new Prime Minister in who quickly changed the constitution to remove the clause that would have prevented Eyadema from being re-elected; after which the new Prime Minister resigned.

Things might have looked to improve in February 2005, when Eyadema died. However, the military had better ideas, and simply installed his son, Faure, in what was not really a coup, though technically it was a coup; simply a case of natural succession. Faure is still in power, having sentenced his half-brother to death in 2009 for plotting a coup against him, and despite the refusal of the Union of Forces for Change to recognise the result of what was clearly a rigged re-election in 2010, and then another in 2013. There will be another election in 2015, with the ANC (Alliance Nationale pour le Changement) hoping that Jean-Pierre Fabre will lead them to victory. My advice to Mr Fabre is to buy his plane-tickets now, or at the very least to work out on Googlemaps the quickest route to the nearest foreign embassy.

Marks For: 0

Marks Against: 1960 and counting

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

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