Togo. According to Countryaah, the capital of Togo is Lome. The country’s residents went to presidential elections June 21. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who has been in power for 31 years, ran for another five-year term. His main contender was Gilchrist Olympio, son of Togo’s first President Sylvanus Olympio, who was killed by a coup led by Eyadéma in 1963. Gilchrist Olympio has been living in exile since 1992, when he was seriously shot dead in an attack in connection with the election campaign for the country’s first multi-party.
Prior to this year’s election, four of the country’s five opposition parties had requested that the election be postponed because many of the voters had not yet registered. But the Ministry of the Interior announced that the election would be held as planned and that all voting cards would be sent out by the election day. During the election campaign, the president eased a bit on his normally total grasp of the main media and allowed some of the opposing candidates to hold election speeches in the state television.
- Abbreviationfinder: What does TGO stand for in geography? Here, this 3 letter acronym refers to the country of Togo.
On June 24, it was announced that Eyadéma had gained his own majority already in the first round of elections and thus lost the election. However, the election results were questioned by both the EU and foreign election observers and Western diplomats. The election count had been canceled on June 22 when it looked like Eyadéma would lose. Several members of the National Election Commission resigned the following day after threats and pressure from “unidentified” holdings. Government officials said they had taken over the vote and could announce that Eyadéma received 52% of the vote. Demolitions in protest against the election result erupted in the capital Lomé. Hundreds of youths clashed with police, who met protesters with tear gas and batons.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the difficult path towards democracy was still connoting the political profile of the country. This, initiated in 1992, had been constantly hampered by the authoritarianism of Gnassingbé Eyadéma (whose real name was Étienne Eyadéma Gnassingbé), who, having won power in a coup d’état in 1967, he had governed with dictatorial methods even after the introduction of multi-partyism, when he had been elected president of the Republic three times in consultations that were always contested by the opposition and delegitimized by international organizations. Eyadéma could count on the support of a large and powerful army, and, in spite of the formal democratic openings, he exercised capillary control over the state apparatus; control that extended, thanks to his party Rassemblement du peuple togolais (RPT), including to many social organizations. The lack of transparency and minimum guarantees on the regularity of the electoral process had led the opposition, deprived of the institutional tools to pursue its demands, to boycott parliamentary sessions and, in some cases, the elections themselves, and to resort to demonstrations of piazza, which had often taken very violent forms, especially in conjunction with the electoral rounds. The agreements stipulated several times between the government and the opposition, such as the one following the 1999 legislative elections, did not have the desired effects, leaving the country in a permanent state of crisis. The elections, postponed several times, were held in October 2002,without the rules foreseen by the agreement coming into force. The RTP won 72 seats out of 81, but the consultations were boycotted, like the previous ones, by the major opposition parties, united in the Coalition des forces démocrates (CFD). In December, the newly elected Assembly approved a series of constitutional amendments that removed the constraint of two consecutive terms for the president, thus allowing Eyadéma to re-run, lowering the age to be elected from 45 to 35years, thus making possible a future election of the president’s son, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, and finally placed residence restrictions on candidates, aimed at excluding opponents refugees abroad. Despite the obvious advantageous situation, Eyadéma won the presidential elections in June 2003 with just 57.7 % of the vote. The vote highlighted the clear political-geographical division of the country, with the North, predominantly Kabyé ethnicity (the same as the president), in favor of the government, and the South close to the opposition. In April 2004, with the mediation of the European Union (EU), which promised to reopen the credit lines closed since 1993, there was yet another agreement between the government and the opposition, which however remained inapplicable. The arbitrary and personalistic management of the institutions by the presidential family and the army emerged in a sensational way on the occasion of the sudden death of Eyadéma, which took place in February 2005: Gnassingbé was appointed to the highest office of the state in the most absolute disregard of constitutional norms, which in these cases provided for the provisional transfer of powers to the President of the Parliament, who had the obligation to call new elections within 60days. To obtain this result, Parliament first voted to dismiss its president, then removed from the Constitution the obligation to hold elections and finally appointed Gnassingbé, with the possibility of remaining in office until 2008, the natural expiry of the mandate. A vast popular uprising, which cost hundreds of deaths and thousands of injured and refugees abroad, and the firm condemnation of the African Union, the EU and the UN, prompted Gnassingbé to hold elections in April of the same year. presidential elections, which he won with 60.2 % of the vote. Violent protests and the EU’s failure to recognize the legitimacy of the vote led to August 2006, after nine months of talks with the mediation of the president of Burkina Faso, to an agreement that provided for a government of national unity, legislative elections for 2007, a new electoral commission, the elimination of the article of the Constitution that required to reside from at least one year in Togo to be able to run for the presidency, and finally a decisive downsizing of the role of the armed forces. In September 2006 the agreement found a first and important confirmation with the constitution of the government of national unity.
In foreign policy, Togo maintained a privileged relationship with France and tended to be accredited as a tireless peacemaker, engaging in the resolution of conflicts in the area.