“If a leader want to stay in position, he must never think about a free and fair election.”
-The Mighty Rebel
Faure Gnassingbé is quoted as having said: “My father told me to never leave power.” His father did just that. Gnassingbé Eyadéma remained in power from 1967 until he died in 2005. Along the way, Eyadéma detained, tortured, and killed those who spoke out against him. Eyadéma built a personality cult around himself, which included dedicating statues to himself and maintaining an entourage of hundreds of dancing women who sang his praises. A constitutional referendum in Togo in 1992 implemented a two-term limit for the presidency, but Eyadéma altered this to give himself another term after his two terms were finished.
Since being installed as president by the military in 2005, Faure has faithfully followed his father’s example. The upcoming election in Togo is yet another example. Faure has already served three terms, and he now plans to steal another election to give himself a fourth term. Elections in Togo under the Gnassingbé dynasty have never been free and fair. Elections have been accompanied by rigging, lack of transparency, and a great deal of intimidation and violence. The election in 2005 ended with more than 500 Togolese citizens being killed, with some estimates stating that over 1,000 were killed. At the time Togo was a country with 5 million people, so proportionately that would be as if more than 30,000 American citizens were killed in an American election. This is how far Faure would go to remain in power.
Togo’s elections are schedule for tomorrow and the government has already started blocking certain groups from monitoring the election. Tibor Nagy, who is the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has expressed concerns about the fact that the staff of the National Democratic Institute has been expelled from monitoring electoral activities in Togo.
The government has also resorted to restricting internet access, which seems to have become a common practice during election time in Africa.
Togo is a nation where about half of the population is affected by food insecurity, while almost 70 percent of rural households live below the poverty line. Faure seems very determined to keep things this way in Togo.
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.