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Togo: a didactic drama of misled democratisation in Africa

Kohnert, Dirk (2005): Togo: a didactic drama of misled democratisation in Africa. Published in: Afrika im Blickpunkt (AIB) No. Nr. 1, 2005 (1. June 2005): pp. 1-11.

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Abstract

When the longest-serving African dictator, Togo's Gnassingbé Eyadéma, died unexpectedly in February 2005 after 38 years of autocratic rule, Togo became a test case for indigenous democratisation efforts of African states. However, it soon became clear that a change of regime through the ballot box was impossible, in view of the consolidation of this dictatorship through decades of ill-applied foreign assistance. Political conflict flared up again. Eyadémas son, Faure Gnassingbé, sized power in a coup with the backing of the army and the Barons of the ruling party. Violent protest at home and diplomatic pressure of major donors and African peers forced Gnassingbé to hold presidential elections in April. But as the elections were rigged right from the beginning, it was no surprise that they confirmed the power of the incumbent as heir to the throne of his father. In the interest of political stability in the sub-region, neighbouring states, France and the ECOWAS condoned the election results and the brutal political persecution of opponents. About 700 people died and some 40,000 fled to neighbouring Benin and Ghana in fear of reprisals. Only if the international giver community is ready to take and learn from its errors responsibility for it, a democratic Transition can still succeed. This requires first of all a "durable" mandate of the EU or the United Nations, i.e. substantial security, organizational and financial intervention for the support of the democratic forces of Togo at the time of the execution of fair and free elections. Afterwards a long-term reconstruction assistance is indispensable.

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