Togo Political Disputes and Power Struggles

By | May 11, 2021

In the political disputes and power struggles in Togo, since the emergence of the young state, two irreconcilable power blocs seemed to be facing each other: North versus South, the RPT and the UFC, the military and the merchants, the Gnassingbé and Olympio families in permanent clinic.

While under Eyadema there was a climate of fear that made political discourse impossible, his son changed the strategy to maintain power: step by step he converted his father’s iron dictatorship into a facade democracy. The civil rights situation improved and opposition parties were at least externally involved in political processes, in 2010 even for the first time in the government. As a result, international cooperation with Togo was resumed, which was an important goal of the new government. According to ehealthfacts, benefiting from the growing international aid, the Togolese government is making targeted efforts and reforms, but these are often not implemented.

After almost 15 years under Faure Gnassingbé, it is evident that his government will only allow the country to democratize until its own power is endangered. This also applies to power struggles within the Gnassingbé clan. Easter 2009 a half-brother of the President, were Kpatcha Gnassingbé, and another 30 people for a coup attempt arrested and sentenced in September 2011 for attempted coup by the Supreme Court to 20 years imprisonment. In February 2015, a working group of the UN set for the release of one of Kpatcha Gnassingbé. In August 2015, he was admitted to the CHU hospital admitted because his health deteriorated while in detention. Barry Moussa Barqué, arguably the most influential minister and advisor to the government for decades, has also fallen out of favor. In early August 2016, the once powerful Minister Ayassor was surprisingly dismissed.

On January 10th and 12th 2013 the big markets in Lomé and Kara went up in flames. Arson is suspected, possibly politically motivated. Several opposition politicians have been charged with complicity in the destruction of public property and the formation of a criminal organization. After more than two years there is a court order, but it was rejected by opposition politician Fabre, who is still charged. The opposition Collectif Sauvons le Togo published its own investigation report at the end of 2013.

In the weeks leading up to the 2015 presidential election, there were several large rallies and demonstrations by both the opposition and the ruling UNIR party, with the opposition camp calling for a return to the 1992 constitution to prevent the incumbent president from assuming a third mandate, while UNIR campaigned for the ‘inviolability’ of the constitution.

In August 2017, the opposition party Parti National Panafricain (PNP), founded in 2014, once again called for demonstrations for the reintroduction of the 1992 constitution, comprehensive electoral reforms and a limitation of two mandates for the office of president. As a result, over a hundred thousand people took to the streets in Lomé alone. Especially in Togo’s second largest city, Sokodé, from which the founder and chairman of the PNP Tikpi Achadam comes, riots quickly broke out between the security forces and demonstrators. In the following months, there were mass demonstrations across the country, sometimes several times a week. The police and the military reacted with increasing violence, which regularly resulted in deaths, numerous injuries and arrests. Under the slogan “Togo Debout” (translated “Togo, get up”) and the # FAURE MUST GOa nationwide counter-movement to the government developed, calling on Faure Gnassingbé to resign. A total of 13 opposition parties, including the ANC, the largest opposition party to date, joined forces with the PNP to form the Coalition of 14 and have been coordinating popular uprisings ever since. To make it more difficult to organize the demonstrations, the government switched off the mobile Internet in the country several times for days. Buildings of the opposition parties were burned down, in April 2018 Jean-Pierre Fabre was the victim of an assassination attempt. Tikpi Achadam also had to leave the country for security reasons.

In February 2018 there was an initial round of negotiations between the opposition and the government, in which the government of neighboring Ghana acted as mediator. However, all further attempts at arbitration, including by government representatives from Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau, failed.

At the end of July, all heads of government of the West African Economic Community CEDEAO were hit in Lomé instead, whose chairman was Faure Gnassingbe himself until mid-2018. The CEDEAO urged the opposition not to call for new demonstrations and the state security forces to refrain from violence against the population. CEDEAO advocated limiting the presidency to two mandates, a second round of presidential elections and a reorganization of the Supreme Court. They also called on the government to hold the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2018 in December.

Also in July, French President Emmanuel Macron urged both sides to look for political solutions, given the current situation in the country could not stay like this. The Togolese government has agreed to the statement and continues to feel supported by long-term partner France. The opposition, on the other hand, criticizes Macron’s previous reluctance and complains that the Togolese population is left alone by the international community. According to Afrobaromètre, 87% of the Togolese population are in favor of a return to the 1992 constitution, 70% are calling for the president to resign.

Wooldhomé, former slave house in Agbodrafo Togo