The government of Togo announced last month that it will officially apply to join the Commonwealth of Nations. The Togolese government began this process in 2014. The Commonwealth has traditionally been made up of former British colonies, although Mozambique and Rwanda have both been accepted as members, despite not having previous colonial ties to the United Kingdom. The government of Togo stressed that its application for membership in the Commonwealth is not an attempt to break away from the country’s connection to France.
It may seem odd that a nation with no prior political connections to the United Kingdom would seek membership in the Commonwealth. The Togolese government expressed the view that membership in the Commonwealth will assist with securing new financial opportunities, including attracting foreign investors. There are other reasons for this, however.
The bid for membership in the Commonwealth comes at a time when the government of Togo is under a lot pressure and scrutiny over its human rights record. The country was rocked by protests in 2017 when the people of Togo took to the streets, demanding an end to 50 years of dictatorship in Togo. Since 1967, Togo has only had two presidents. These presidents have been Gnassingbé Eyadéma and his son Faure Gnassingbé. Faure Gnassingbé has been president of Togo since 2005 and is currently serving his fourth term as president of Togo.
The Gnassingbé regime in Togo understands that it needs international support if it is to remain in power. Membership in the Commonwealth would not only provide more financial opportunities for the regime, but it will also help to provide the international credibility to a regime that is desperately looking to improve its image within the international community.
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.