Exposing The Pro-Faure Gnassingbé Propaganda From Togo’s Government

With elections coming up soon, it is no surprise to see that the Togolese government is continuing its effort to rehabilitate its tainted image. The most recent example of this is an article titled Togo: Faure Gnassingbé hits the gas! by Dominique Flaux. The article describes Faure has having turned “a nation that was highly criticized in the past into a model of governance and growth”. A model of governance for whom? This year Togo held its first local election in over 30 years and re-instated presidential term limits, which were suspended in 2002. Togo is just now getting around to implementing some basic features of effective governance which many other nations have. If Togo is a model of governance for any nation, it might be a model of governance for Guinea where the president is unleashing deadly violence against his own citizens in a bid to prolong his presidency. Otherwise, most nations aren’t looking at Togo’s five decades of single-family rule as a model to be emulated. In fact, most democratic societies are actually concerned about the establishment of family dynasties in politics. Prior to the 2016 elections, some voters in America expressed concern over the political influence of the Bush and Clinton families in American politics. There were also concerns raised in Atingua in the 1990s over the dominant role that the Bird family held in Antigua’s politics.

Dominique Flaux writes:

As civil peace is threatened, Faure Gnassingbé agrees to mediation by the Presidents of Guinea and Ghana, Alpha Condé and Nana Akufo-Addo. The two leaders successfully restore a national dialogue, enabling the ECOWAS to draw a plan to end the crisis. This plan proved to be successful as two years later, the country seems to have fully recovered, with its economy being more dynamic than ever, in all its 60 years of independence. Still, Faure Gnassingbé had to overcome many obstacles to achieve such feats.

Flaux fails to mention that it was Faure himself who threatened the civil peace by launching a violent crackdown of the protests. It was the government of Togo that escalated the situation and “fully recovered” in this context is merely Flaux’s way of stating that the status quo in Togo has been restored after the protests. This means that political prisoners are still being tortured and protesters continue to be killed.

Flaux explains that ECOWAS’ plan was a success, but it was not. In the first place, Togo did not bother to implement any of the electoral reforms which ECOWAS recommended. Instead, Togo went ahead with legislative elections in December 2018, without implementing these reforms. When the people of Togo protested, the government responded with its usual show of violence, which resulted in several deaths, including a child being shot and killed. ECOWAS’ intervention did little to help resolve the crisis, but it did cause the Togolese people to lose faith in ECOWAS.

Flaux explains: “Truth is, throughout his 38 years of governance, the late Eyadema Gnassingbé ruled Togo with an iron hand. Opposing him would not have been the smartest move.” This passage is presented to give the impression that the author is trying to be open and honest about Eyadema’s brutality, but the sentence is actually a roundabout way of criticizing those who opposed Eyadema by suggesting that their actions were not “the smartest move.” Could it be that those who opposed Eyadema did so because of their courage or because of their principles, and not because they were not smart? Moreover, Flaux says that Eyadema ruled Togo with an “iron hand”, but deliberately leaves out the gruesome details about how under Eyadema people were tortured and killed.

More importantly, is that in what ways does Faure differ from his father? Flaux does not address this topic because Faure runs Togo with the same “iron hand” that hos father did. Flaux notes that after Eyadema died, “the army picked young Faure to take his father’s place. He, therefore, resigned as a minister and runs for the presidency, with the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party, the ruling party since 1969.”

Flaux apparently does not see an issue with the army selecting the successor of the president — which was a clear violation of Togo’s constitution. Flaux does, however, acknowledge the hundreds that were killed during this election. Flaux does not have many criticisms of Faure over this however because, according to Flaux, Faure made amends for the past violence of his regime and his father’s regime when he established the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR). Flaux explained that the CVJR “ listens to victims of political clashes, understands what happened, how it happened, and how to prevent them in the future, thus preserving peace.” Nowhere does Flaux mention that the CVJR urges for the release of political prisoners, the reform of Togo’s horrible prison conditions, or the prosecution of government officials and those in the security forces who are responsible for the human rights abuses in Togo because the CVJR doesn’t do any of this.

Flaux brushes aside all of these human rights abuses to mainly highlight Togo’s supposed economic success, which is measured by Togo’s ability to attract international donors. Flaux writes: “ Today, Togo’s move at the international level is paying off. Investors from Japan, France, China, Germany, UK, and many others are flocking to the country. Africa’s richest, Aliko Dangote pledges more than $2 billion in industrial investments. Another mogul, Jack Ma, promised to support Togolese entrepreneurs. More and more businesses are being created.”

Flaux talks about businesses being created, but there is no mention of how Faure plans to address the issues in Togo that he has ignored since he has been president. Are these investors going to help fix the hospitals in Togo so that doctors do not have to use cellphone lights to perform surgeries or so that women do not have to give birth on the floor?

Will the investors help to repair schools in Togo so that schools in Togo don’t look like this?

Faure hasn’t found the time to make sure that Togo has proper hospitals and schools, but he made sure that Togo has a nice airport to impress foreign journalists. Everything that Faure does is a calculated effort to maintain his international image. Faure is so desperate for this that he is willing to pay $1,500 an hour to a firm in D.C. to improve his tainted international image.

Flaux ends the article by writing: “Next year, the country will hold presidential elections. If the Togolese people are charmed by these positive changes, Faure Gnassingbé could very well secure another five-year term to advance Togo.” The outcome of Togo’s elections has never been based on what the Togolese people want because Togo’s elections have never been fair and free. This is why individuals in Togo are still calling for electoral reforms because such reforms have yet to be implemented.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist, author, and law student.

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