The European Union’s Hypocritical Support of Dictatorship in Togo
Last week President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo spoke at the first Togo-European Union forum. Gnassingbé used the opportunity to seek European investment in Togo. The efforts to build stronger economic ties between Togo and Europe also led to the recent creation of the European Chamber of Commerce of Togo, which is intended to “build and consolidate relations between Togo and Europe.”
The relationship is one in which the EU invests in Togo, while ignoring the human rights abuses in Togo and the demands for democratic change. This is consistent with the manner in which the EU has engaged with Africa. For example, this was the same EU which placed sanctions on Zimbabwe over the government’s land reform policy, which took land away from the European settlers in Zimbabwe. Prior to the land reform Robert Mugabe had actually enjoyed the type of relationship with Europe that Gnassingbé enjoys now. Mugabe was a very close Western ally. Western governments deliberately ignored the atrocities that were being carried out by Mugabe’s government so long as the injustices were being inflicted against Africans. The same principle applies in Togo today. The EU is willing to overlook the human rights abuses in Togo so long as Togo can serve Europe’s interests in the region.
It is also worth noting that the EU’s support for Togo comes at a time when there is serious concern about the re-emergence of fascism throughout Europe. One area where the left, right, and center in European politics all seem to agree is that fascist dictatorships in Africa are not only to be tolerated, but to be supported if those dictatorships can support European neo-colonial policies in Africa. The EU’s push to encourage more investment in Togo is just another example of the fact that European leaders are very much willing to help impose dictatorships on African people, even as European society continues to wrestle with its own dark history of fascist dictatorships.
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.