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No change in sight - Togo’s Political and Socio-Economic Development (2017 – 2019)

Kohnert, Dirk (2019): No change in sight - Togo’s Political and Socio-Economic Development (2017 – 2019). Forthcoming in: BTI 2020 - Togo-Country Report , Vol. 2020, No. 2020 (2 October 2020): pp. 1-57.

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The Gnassingbé clan has ruled the country since 1967. The demand for political alternance, initiated by institutional and electoral reforms, constituted the major contentious issue between the government and the challengers of the Gnassingbé regime throughout the survey period. An alliance of opposition parties and civil society groups organized peaceful demonstrations in opposition to the regime, which were often violently suppressed. Civil society organizations and representatives of the Christian church supported the demands of the opposition. The legislative elections of 20 December 2018, boycotted by the major opposition parties, resulted in an easy victory of the ruling party. The local elections, crucial for democratization at the grass-roots, but postponed time and again since 1987, were again postponed in December 2018 sine die. The human rights record of the government has improved but remains poor. Despite undeniable improvements to the framework and appearance of the regime's key institutions during the review period, democracy remains far from complete. However, the international community, notably Togo’s African peers, the AU and ECOWAS, followed a ‘laissez-faire’ approach in the interests of regional stability and their national interests in dealing with Togo. Economic growth remained stable at about 5% per annum. Public investment in infrastructure (e.g. roads, harbour) and increases in agricultural productivity, notably of export crops, had been the key drivers of economic growth. However, growth remains vulnerable to external shocks and the climate and has not been inclusive. Positive growth was overshadowed by increasing inter-personal and regional inequality as well as an increase in extreme poverty. Moreover, money-laundering, illegal money transfers and trafficking grew alarmingly. The business climate improved considerably nevertheless.

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