Some voters in Togo refuse to vote because they believe the election is neither free nor fair
President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo is going for re-election for his fourth tenure in office. With his opposition divided, the president is faces with a challenge of convincing the vast majority that he is the best presidential candidate.
The 53-year old president is opting for a rerun in order to extend his family’s domination over Togo. Gnassingbé came into power in 2005 right after the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma. Eyadéma was president for thirty-eight years before his death.
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The Gnassingbé Dynasty
Gnassingbé Eyadéma took over power from Kléber Dadjo, the second president of Togo on April 14, 1967. Furthermore, he began the Gnassingbé’s dynasty from 1967, and his family remains in power even after his death in 2005.
Immediately Eyadéma assumes office as president; he created a political party called the Rally of the Togolese People. In the early 90s, Gnassingbé party was the only authorized political party. Pressure so grew on Gnassingbé’s rule against a multiparty system.
Other political parties arose to contest the position on the presidency with Gnassingbé. He ultimately consolidated power as president but won all the elections during his lifetime as president. The opposition claims the 1998 and 2003 elections were fraudulent and unfair.
Gnassingbé was Africa’s longest-serving leader before he died in 2005. Research shows that his rule rested on repression, patronage, and a bizarre leadership cult. Gnassingbé Faure succeeded his father as president of Togo, after his death.
Eyadéma made his son, Faure, minister of Equipment, Mines, Posts, and Telecommunications, before his death. Political pressure began when Faure became president. The argument was to determine the constitutional legitimacy of the country’s new leader.
Before he died, Eyadéma left orders declaring his son, Faure, as his heir. Faure’s election was immediately approved, as 98% of the national assembly belonged to Gnassingbé’s party. Gnassingbé Faure remains president to date.
Election Won’t Change The Political Crisis In Togo
Faure Gnassingbé once said, “My father told me never to leave power.”
Togo is the last country in Africa to see the lights of a democratic alternation. Fifty-seven years ago, Eyadéma Gnassingbé, father of the current president, took power from Sylvanus Olympio, in a military coup. Up to date, the Gnassingbé’s dynasty continues to rule Togo, second only to North Korea’s ruling dynasty.
There have been six elections since the democratic movement in the early 90s. The Gnassingbé family has won all six elections. In 1993 protesters were shot down on the streets. This caused international donors to stop development assistance.
Nearly 70% of Togo’s population lives in abject poverty below the global poverty line. Togo ranks low in all the key indexes of development, freedom, and economics. A study from the University of Munich suggests that the poor In Togo cannot be called poor because the economic system of the country has left them worse-off.
Togo is now a hub for trafficking of all kinds and various forms of smugglings. According to the 2019 corruption perceptions index by Transparency International, Togo ranks 130 of 180 most corrupt countries in the world.
Members of the electoral commission are loyal to the existing regime. The constitutional court is also loyal to the existing regime. The big question is, there a chance for change in this year’s election?
The unending political crisis in Togo is tiring. The big picture is, it is time for a change. The opposition may oust for an unprecedented victory against the existing regime. However, we all know that the existing regime will not be willing to surrender power. We’ll see what the future holds.