Why Is Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Shaking Hands with Togo’s Dictator Faure Gnassingbe?

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Governor Phil Bryant is in Togo to promote American investment for the West African nation. Governor Bryant stated that the “Prosper Africa” initiative which he is sponsoring will be “bringing to Togo investors who will carry out activities in the energy, infrastructure and agriculture sectors, and of health.”

Togo currently has the oldest military regime on the continent. In 1963, President Sylvanus Olympio was assassinated in a coup. Eyadema Gnassingbe, who was one of the people involved in the plot to kill Olympio, staged another coup in 1967. Eyadema remained the president of Togo until he died in 2005. After Eyadema died, the military seized power and placed Eyadema’s son Faure Gnassingbe as the president of Togo. International pressure forced the government of Togo to finally hold elections that same year. Faure won, although the opposition protested that the election was not a fair or free election. Moreover, the election resulted in hundreds of citizens being killed.

The Gnassingbe family dictatorship in Togo is a very brutal one which has arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured, and killed many of its own citizens. The conditions of Togo’s prisons are especially notorious. In these prisons, Togolese political prisoners are tortured. Many others have had to flee Togo to avoid such brutal reprisal from the government. Togo is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, but in 2015 Togo was also ranked as being the most miserable country in the world. Five decades of dictatorship has caused horrible pain and suffering to the people of Togo.

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

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